The Crusaders aren’t just playing the Bulls – they are up against the whole of South Africa.
That has become abundantly clear to Todd Blackadder’s squad since they arrived in the republic to prepare for their semifinal with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Sunday (NZ time).
Duncan Johnstone writes for Rugbyheaven NZ that the Crusaders have based themselves down the freeway in neighbouring Johannesburg but it’s clear that the Bulls have the whole of the country behind them in their quest to win a second title after claiming South Africa’s first in 2007.
Rugby news in the national media has been dominated by the Bulls campaign.
Super Rugby semifinals in South Africa a rarity – this will be only the fifth held in the country in 14 seasons.
And they are out to make the most of it in a year when South Africa will host the British & Irish Lions. They see this as the ideal appetiser.
It’s the Bulls against New Zealand in their eyes with three Kiwi sides making up this year’s playoffs.
The 50,000-seater Loftus is set for a sellout with die-hard Bulls fans snapping up the tickets. Many of them camped overnight on Sunday once the makeup of the semifinals was confirmed.
The first tickets went on sale last night (NZ time) and were to be phased through to Wednesday.
But the Crusaders can be sure – there won’t be a spare seat in the stadium and not many of them will be filled by red and black fans. The place will be a sea of blue as it lives up to its reputation of being one of the most intimidating venues in world rugby.
The Crusaders are wisely keeping out of Pretoria until they have to, only transferring there on Friday for their captain’s run at the stadium.
The Crusaders lost the 2007 semifinal there 12-27 as the Bulls went on to beat the Sharks in the final for their first taste of the silverware.
But the Crusaders do know how to win there. In fact they have won four of their eight matches there down the years as they have dominated Super Rugby with seven titles.
They are 11-5 against the Bulls overall.Tweet