The BNZ Crusaders will host the Highlanders in the 2019 edition of the Farmlands Cup, and this year the squad will make their way to Southbridge Rugby Club for the annual pre-season fixture between the sides.

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Photo Credit: Photosport

BNZ Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said it is exciting to see the match come together after planning out in Southbridge has been months in the making: “Southbridge Rugby Club have been outstanding in preparing to host this match, and it’s shaping up to be a brilliant event for the Crusaders and our rural fans.
“3500 tickets have already been sold for this match and, with just 1000 remaining, we are confident the rural community will get behind this fixture. Tickets will be available at the gate on Friday night, and we’re expecting a big walk-up crowd for what promises to be a fantastic evening of rugby between these two proud Super Rugby sides”.
The winning team will again be awarded $5000 from Farmlands for a charity of their choice, and this year the BNZ Crusaders will play for St John Selwyn Central. 
“It is fitting that the Crusaders will also be representing a local charity, St John Selwyn Central, for this match. Not only does the team have a unique opportunity to play out in Selwyn, we also have the chance to give back to the local community in the process,” Mr Mansbridge said.
Chairman of St John Selwyn Central, John Sunckell, said it will be fantastic to welcome the Crusaders out to Southbridge: “Rural communities are some of the most loyal supporters of their footy teams, so we are really looking forward to seeing the Crusaders run out at the club ahead of the start of their Super Rugby season.  
“We are also grateful to both the Crusaders and Farmlands for supporting the work that we do at St John. There is a fantastic sense of community spirit out in Selwyn, so between hosting the Crusaders, having them engage with their fans out here and playing for a local charity, we are thrilled that our community is able to be part of that,” Mr Sunckell said. 
This is the first time the match will be hosted out in Southbridge, with previous editions having been held in Waimumu in Southland (twice) and Darfield.
BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said the opportunity to connect with fans adds to the importance of the pre-season match: “The Farmlands Cup is a great concept, it’s been really successful and has always attracted big crowds. For us, heading out to Southbridge makes it a really great occasion – we have a lot of history out there and it’s unique to play a game in the country and have our fans so close to the action.   
“We want Crusaders fans, wherever they are based, to feel connected to the team, so taking this opportunity in the pre-season is special. The boys are aware there’s a trophy on the line and we’re playing for charity as well, which makes it much more than just a pre-season game,” Robertson said. 

Farmlands Chief Executive Peter Reidie is confident the final tickets will be snapped up: “We have had three sell-outs in a row for the Farmlands Cup, giving 19,400 people the chance to see high quality rugby. We are confident the Southbridge event will be another fantastic occasion, well supported by local rugby fans. Farmlands is proud to support something that gives back to our rural communities and provides people with an opportunity to see their rugby heroes in person.” 
Kick off in the Farmlands Cup match between the BNZ Crusaders and the Highlanders is 6pm, Friday 8 February, at Southbridge Rugby Club. 
Tickets are still available from Ticket Rocket.