The Crusaders (formerly the Canterbury Crusaders ) are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles (’98, ’99, 2000, ’02, ’05, ’06 & ’08). While featuring strong every year since, they failed to capture another title under Coach Todd Blackadder (who also Captained the All Blacks national team). Coach Blackadder left the franchise at the end of the 2016 season for a coaching role overseas.
The Crusaders’ name recalls the English heritage of the city of Christchurch. Christchurch was established by English emigrants in the 19th century and is often described as the most English city outside England. The club adopted the Canterbury Provincial traditional sporting colours of red and black.
The Crusaders’ franchise area consists of the regions controlled by the Buller, Canterbury, Mid-Canterbury, South Canterbury, Tasman and West Coast rugby unions. Before 2006, when the NPC was reorganised, Canterbury was the only union playing division one provincial rugby within the Crusaders’ catchment. As a result, the majority of Crusaders players were also listed with Canterbury. Today, the Crusaders’ catchment contains two ITM Cup sides – Canterbury and Tasman. In the professional era, players are not only drawn from the franchise areas, but also recruited from other areas of New Zealand and even the Pacific Islands.
The Crasaders’ players often feature strongly in the New Zealand national side the “All Blacks” and include dual World Cup winning Caption Richie Macaw.
The Majority of games are played in Christchurch where the team is based. Games are also played in regional areas to respect the loyal fans who cannot always travel to Christchurch.