The Blues were the in form team when Super Rugby started in 1996. They won the first two titles as favourites, and it wasn’t until the ’98 season when the Crusaders tipped them over that it even seemed possible for another franchise to reign.
Since then it’s been a different story.
The Crusaders and the Blues have faced off 42 times since Super Rugby began, our boys in red and black having come away with the W on 32 occasions.
Of the last 18 battles, the Crusaders have won 17. We beat them in Round 4 this year, 34-28 at Eden Park, and again in Round 12, 15-3 here in Christchurch.
And who could forget when we visited Eden Park in the final last year to win 21-7 – our 11th title victory and 7th in a row, ending an impressive winning streak from the boys in blue – including a win by the Blues in Christchurch in April 2022, their first here in almost 20 years.
Scott Robertson, Crusaders Head Coach, said the two teams had a history of playing “some great games” and was excited by the prospect of a home semi final against our old foes.
“It’s good, genuine finals footy. A little bit of history from last year will add a bit of spice to it,” Robertson said.
“It’s going to be a hell of match.”
Scott Barrett, Crusaders captain and younger brother to Blues’ playmaker Beauden Barrett, didn’t mince his words when the semi versus the Blues was confirmed – “Shit Yeah!”
Prop Tamaiti Williams said he was excited about the idea of coming up against the likes of All Blacks Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Nepo Laulala in the front row.
"Oh, it’s exciting. There’s nothing better than having the Blues at home, they’ve got some good experience in that front-row, mentors to me,” Williams said.
With history and “bad blood”, as Blues captain Dalton Papali’i described it, comes respect. Scott Hansen, Crusaders Assistant Coach, said the Blues were a formidable team who deserved their spot.
“We do need to prepare for a Blues team that understands their strength, which is ball in hand,” Hansen said.
“They are a dynamic team, they are powerful. So, we can expect them and prepare for them to hold the ball more.”