Crusaders on the March

Last season the Crusaders failed to make the Super Rugby playoffs. The last time this happened was in 2001 when the Canterbury side finished 10th. They came back to win the following season and dominate for seven years making six of the next seven Super Rugby finals. Other teams take note.

The Crusaders sit fifth on the Australasian Super Rugby table but with a game in hand on the four teams ahead of them. It's a decent start but belies how the Crusaders have excelled in all facets of the game, in the same way that 19-14 flattered the Sharks on Saturday.

Were it not for Lwazi Mvovo's brace of individual and opportunistic tries the Sharks would have been pointless. The Crusaders held a monopoly on possession, territory and creativity. Commentators went crazy with all the metaphors- waves of red in Durban and the Sharks drowning in their own tank.

The game was not an outlier, the Super Rugby stats for the season all point to the Crusaders being the team to watch. They lead scrum statistics with a 97% success rate and lie fourth in the line-outs on 90.7%. The Chiefs are the best team in line-outs winnings 93.6% of their throw-ins.

They protect the ball better than any other team in Super Rugby with a 96% success rate at the breakdown. Their tackle success rate is also top of the pile on 88.5% ahead of the Sharks in second on 87.9%.

Despite their success on the ground they look to keep the ball alive before hitting the deck. Only the Chiefs on 72, have more offloads than the Crusaders' 58. The men from Canterbury also have the third most clean breaks with 60, 10 less than the Chiefs who have played an extra game.

The numbers will please coach Todd Blackadder who has now been with the Crusaders for eight years without a championship win. Blackadder took over from Robbie Deans who left on a high, winning the title in 2008. Blackadder has had to put up with the All Blacks getting preference over Richie McCaw and Dan Carter's time.

Now, without vincible, sabbatical-taking demi-God's in the team Blackadder has launched another crusade. And this time his best player is Fijian, safe from the All Black selectors.

The Crusaders face the Lions next who they have beaten in the last six Super Rugby matches. However, the Lions are the best attacking team among the defensive South African bunch. 

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Blackaddder: Am I jumping the gun Baldrick or are the words 'I have a cunning plan' marching towards this conversation with ill-deserved confidence?

Lions vs Crusaders History

Lions vs Crusaders Total Ellis Park Away
Played 16 8 50.0% 8 50.0%
Wins 3 18.8% 2 25.0% 1 12.5%
Losses 13 81.2% 6 75.0% 7 87.5%
Draws 0 - 0 - 0 -

Last victory for the Lions: 9-3 Ellis Park 2007 

Biggest win for Lions: 54-31 Ellis Park 2000

Biggest win for the Crusaders: 65-34 Christchurch 2003

Crusaders Super Rugby Results History

Crusaders  Total Home Away
Played 289 147 50.9% 142 49.1%
Wins 192 66.4% 119 81.0% 73 51.4%
Losses 90 31.1% 24 16.3% 66 46.5%
Draws 7 2.4% 4 2.7% 3 2.1%
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