BNZ Crusaders collect French Barbarians' scalp in Christchurch

That little bloke Mitchell Hunt probably wouldn't look out of place in a blue French jersey with a red chook stitched over his left nipple. Hunt, starting at fullback in a BNZ Crusaders team laden with rosy-cheeked freshmen in Christchurch on Friday night, was in regal form as his side triumphed 42-26 over the French Barbarians at AMI Stadium. Last year Hunt had a terrific rookie season when he filled in for injured first five-eighth Richie Mo'unga for the first part of the Super Rugby season, but the ride hasn't been so easy in 2018 as the former has struggled to match those impressive efforts. BNZ Crusaders Jone Macilai and Hamish Dalzell celebrate Mitchell Drummond scoring the first try against the French Barbarians in Christchurch on Friday night.

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New Zealand and French cultures to be celebrated at BNZ Crusaders match against the French Barbarians

Match proudly supported by Mobil


The French Barbarians will run out onto AMI Stadium tonight to face the BNZ Crusaders side, in what is a unique clash between the Super Rugby club and the visiting international team. Adding to the occasion will be a number of different performances and features of the match day experience highlighting both New Zealand and French culture, including the Crusaders' performance of their Haka - Takina Te Kawa - before the match.

The Haka has only been performed once before, during the British & Irish Lions tour in June last year. Takina Te Kawa was written by Crusaders and CRFU Kaumatua, Ruawhitu Pokaia, and tells the story of the Crusaders - the region and people the team represent, as well as the type of people the team aspire to be. Tonight, BNZ Crusaders' midfielder Tim Bateman will lead the team in performing Takina Te Kawa.

To complement the Haka, the rousing French national anthem - La Marseillaise - will be performed by the Christchurch Pops Choir, a group that was established soon after the Christchurch earthquake in 2011. The Choir will be on hand to sing both national anthems.

At the conclusion of the game, the winning team will be presented with a special commemorative sword by BNZ Crusaders Chairman, Grant Jarrold.


BNZ Crusaders Captain, Mitchell Drummond, and French Barbarians Captain, Francois Cros, are photographed with the 'Sword of Honour', the commemorative sword the teams will play for tonight. 

BNZ Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said the match was sure to be a fantastic experience for fans: “We have a diverse rugby fan base here in Christchurch, and I have no doubt there will be plenty of passionate French rugby fans in the crowd on Friday night in support of their team.

“A BNZ Crusaders match against a visiting international team is a very special event and we are grateful to Mobil, who are proud supporters of this match, and will offer three fans the opportunity to kick and win a $30,000 cash prize at half time.

"With the addition of the Crusaders’ Haka and the Christchurch Pops Choir performing the national anthems, this is going to be a highly memorable experience for fans and a proud occasion for our BNZ Crusaders team,” Riach said.

Members of Alliance Française de Christchurch, the city's local French society, will also attend the match and look forward to seeing their fellow countrymen play in Christchurch with a large contingent donning the red, white and blue for game-day.

Senior Teacher, Nans Driviere, commented that New Zealand and France have a wonderful history and rivalry on the rugby field, so the match on Friday is a great opportunity to promote both the French and New Zealand cultures: “We have a great French community here in Christchurch, so to have a match played in the city between a visiting French side and the current Super Rugby Champions is very special and an exciting event for local French fans to be a part of."

In keeping with the French theme at AMI Stadium, VBase have also added croissants to their menu for fans to enjoy. Earlier this week, French cuisine was on the menu at Crusaders HQ too, with students from Rangi Ruru Girls' School, Lincoln High School, Shirley Boys' High School, St Andrew's College and St Margaret's College invited to Rugby Park to participate in a French Challenge alongside Head Coach Scott Robertson, Backs Coach Ronan O'Gara, and players Mike Delany and Seta Tamanivalu. To watch the video of the visit, click here.

Kick off in the BNZ Crusaders versus French Barbarians match is 7:35pm, Friday 15 June, at AMI Stadium in Christchurch. To purchase tickets, click here. To view the BNZ Crusaders team named on Wednesday to play the French Barbarians side, click here

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