It is one of Super Rugby’s most treasured rivalries — the Crusaders and Highlanders will battle each other for South Island supremacy in the New Year.
Rarely have the two sides strayed away from their home bases of Christchurch or Dunedin for clashes against each other, but every summer they’re able to connect with rural communities around the South Island thanks to Farmlands Co-operative. Next February the Farmlands Cup will go on the line for a seventh time since 2016.
After competing for the prized silverware in Waimumu, Darfield, Southbridge, Wanaka and Temuka, a new chapter will be etched into the storied history of the Crusaders vs Highlanders rivalry when the Farmlands Cup enters new territory in 2022.
For the first time since the trophy’s inception, Farmlands will bring the Crusaders and Highlanders to North Otago for a pre-season showdown 6km from Oamaru at Valley Rugby Club in Weston on 4th February 2022.
The Highlanders will have another chance to try to snatch the Farmlands Cup out of the clutches of the Crusaders after being beaten by a Brett Cameron penalty at the death in this year’s encounter in Temuka.
In doing so, the playmaker ensured the Crusaders retained the Farmlands Cup for the fourth straight year, a streak the Highlanders are eager to snap in front of a home crowd.
“North Otago is known for their passion for rugby and we see that every year in their Heartland Championship team performances,” Highlanders head coach Tony Brown says.
“To get an opportunity to play in their patch against our great South Island rivals, the Crusaders, will be a great way to kick off the new season. I know our whole club will be looking forward to the event.”
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson is similarly excited to return to the heartland of the South Island.
“The Farmlands Cup is always a great celebration of Super Rugby in the regions,” he says.
“While there’s plenty of mutual respect between the two sides, the rivalry between the Crusaders and our southern neighbours is strong and I’m sure both teams will look to put on a show for the community in North Otago to open the 2022 season.”
Farmlands Oamaru Business Manager Steffan Souness is on the ground with local farmers each day and says that events like Farmlands Cup are driven by huge community support.
“Our shareholders and customers really get behind the Cup and we want to make sure we are giving back to the Otago community. Our North Otago community are the beating heart of grassroots rugby so it’s great to have the opportunity to put on a top-level rugby game for the locals,” Steffan says.
Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark added that the highly-anticipated fixture wouldn’t be possible without the support of Farmlands.
“The Farmlands Cup really has become the jewel in our preseason crown,” Clark says.
“For the last 7 years this game has generated excitement up and down the South Island in some very special locations across Southland and Otago.
“This year it’s North Otago’s turn, staging a game at Weston, the home of the Valley Rugby Club, will be tremendously exciting for our club.
“We have always enjoyed great support from the North Otago area and they are of course a very successful and proud rugby region, it will be enjoyable for both teams to have the opportunity to engage with local supporters.
“Clearly we can’t create these experiences without the support of Farmlands. We thank and congratulate them for the continued energy they put behind these games to ensure that their customers get to enjoy professional rugby in magnificent rural settings.”
Farmlands shareholders will get access to tickets, with exclusive access going live mid November 2021. For more information see www.farmlands.co.nz/farmlandscup. Public access will go live early 2022.