NELSON, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 29: Round 16 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes at Trafalgar Park on May 29, 2015 in Nelson, New Zealand. (Photo by Marc Palmano/Shuttersport Limited)

Opinion: Crusaders need Nelson

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The Crusaders played a Super Rugby semi-final in front of a not-so-super semi-crowd on Saturday night.

There have been various excuses mentioned on social media and predictions of the demise of rugby announced on talkback radio. But the Tasman Rugby Union should be using it as an opportunity to push the case for Nelson to host more regular Super Rugby games.

One of the excuses, along with the cold, that has been used is that there is too much rugby for the Christchurch market. Fine, let us take a game or two off your hands.

Nelsonians only get three professional rugby games at Trafalgar Park a year, due to sharing the Makos with Blenheim. The city could easily fill our stadium for a Super Rugby game once or twice a year.

And remember, Tasman is a union in the Crusaders franchise, a union whose team reached the final in last year’s Mitre 10 Cup and a union that provides a decent chunk of players to the Crusaders.

Why do we get overlooked when Christchurch can’t even sell out its tiny ground for a semi-final?

The last Crusaders game to be hosted in Nelson was in 2015. On that occasion the Crusaders were forced to play outside of Christchurch’s AMI Stadium as it was already booked for the Under 20 FIFA world cup.

Nelson was only picked after a push from Crusaders management to get the game moved to Fiji didn’t pan out. A full house of over 16,000 people packed Trafalgar Park for that game.

Tasman Rugby Union CEO Tony Lewis says Tasman is ready and waiting to host the Crusaders, telling Nelson Weekly, “the position of the Tasman Rugby Union is that we are willing to assist our partners and host the Crusaders any time they want to play in Nelson.”

If the Crusaders continue to ignore us at the expense of rubbish crowds in Christchurch then Tasman should pull stumps and find another Super rugby franchise to line up with, like Taranaki did in 2013 when it left the Hurricanes for the Chiefs.