Crusaders vs Sharks Super Rugby Preview

This match is the Big one. The match is the first time a Super Rugby match has ever been played outside of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and it could break the record for the biggest Super Rugby crowd.

The record for the biggest Super Rugby crowd currently stands at 54,000 in Pretoria and a Ticketmaster spokesman said that this match was the strongest response to a rugby match outside an international that he had experienced.

The match is also the first time in history that a Super Rugby match has been played at a neutral venue.

There are reports of up to 900 000 South Africans in the greater London area and 250 000 New Zealanders around the city the match will be a big draw. Add in the 400 000 Australians who will be hungry for Super rugby and the occasion could hardly be bigger.

In addition the two teams that will contest the match are probably the two best placed team for this. The Crusaders are New Zealand’s most successful Super Rugby team with a reputation for playing some of the best rugby in the world and then Sharks who are arguably the best supported English speaking South African team.

It is doubtful that the Bulls, Lions, Stormers or Cheetahs would pull a bigger crowd in London.

The Crusaders started off slowly – as they usually do – and lost to the Blues in their opening match. The Christchurch earthquake hit within a few days and their second round match was cancelled and called a draw. They took the next week off and came back with a bang.

Since the third Round the Crusaders have been getting stronger and stronger. The Waratahs were leading the Super Rugby standings before they met the Crusaders and were well beaten 33-18 although the score does not reflect how much the Waratahs were outplayed.

In the fourth Round the Crusaders blew former Champions the Brumbies away 52-10 and last week they thumped the Highlanders who led the Super rugby standings a few rounds ago. It’s been strong and steady growth from the Crusaders.

The Sharks on the other hand started with a home victory over the Cheetahs followed by another victory over the Blues in Durban. In the third round the thumped the Force 12-39.

Super Rugby’s newcomers the Rebels ran the Sharks close in Melbourne but eventually beat them 32-34. Their first loss came last week in Hamilton when they fell to the Chiefs 15-9 and they – crucially – lost their playmaker Patrick Lambie.

When the match kicks off in London the Sharks will be playing their fourth match in four weeks which spread across two hemispheres and four countries. That travel has to take it’s toll.

The South African record for Super Rugby log points accumulated on tour stands at 16 and is held by the Stormers, but The Sharks can equal this when they take on the Crusaders in a historic match at Twickenham in London on Sunday.

The Sharks have accrued 11 log points in their first three tour games this season, in Perth, Melbourne and Hamilton. They have however lost their playmaker Patrick Lambie for this match,

The odds on the Sharks beating the Crusaders are stacked against them due to history. Out of the last five matches the Sharks have won one.

The last time the Sharks beat the Crusaders was back in 2007 when Ruan Pienaar kicked a last minute penalty to snatch a 26-27 victory in Durban. Out of the 14 times the two teams have met the Sharks only other victory against the Crusaders was again in Durban in 2004.

The Crusaders therefore have an 85.7% win ratio against the Sharks. On average the Crusaders 32 points against the Sharks who on average score 23 points against the Crusaders.

Ironically the star player for the Crusaders when the two teams met last year was Thomas Waldrom (pictured)who now plays in England and this week has revealed that he is eligible to play for England.

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