Calls for new Crusaders home ground
REACTION: Calls for a new stadium in Christchurch have grown louder in the wake of the Crusaders’ ugly 18-13 win over the Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium on Sunday.
A brace of tries to Will Jordan handed the reigning Super Rugby champions their sixth straight victory to maintain their undefeated run in the revised Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
However, Jordan’s opportunistic scoring exploits were two of only a few moments of excitement throughout the encounter, as constant drizzle made for an error-ridden clash between two of the heavyweights of the league.
Sloppy passes, knock ons, lengthy kicking duels and numerous set pieces were prominent all game long in conditions that made the turf and ball as slippery as each other.
These facets of the game have become synonymous with matches held in Christchurch in the middle of the New Zealand winter.
Built in 2012 as a temporary home ground for the Crusaders in place of the now-closed AMI Stadium after it was destroyed in the 2011 earthquakes, the open-aired Orangetheory Stadium offers little protection from the harsh weather on offer in the South Island through June to August.
This is conducive to physical, forward-orientated rugby, where the wet ball makes it difficult to play the expansive rugby that New Zealand sides are so often associated with.
That much was evident on Sunday afternoon, where the rain spat down on the players and the grey clouds forced the floodlights to come on much earlier in the afternoon than usually expected.
It came as no surprise, then, to see many viewers voice their displeasure on Twitter at the quality of rugby on offer, with others eager to see a new closed-roof stadium implemented to nullify the negative effects caused by the dull conditions.
When does Christchurch get a covered stadium?
— Ryan Nixon (@NewYorkNixon) June 28, 2020
What is this? I went to watch ping pong and it broke out in game of footy#CRUvCHI
— MrTips2020 (@MTips2020) June 28, 2020
This has been a terrible half an hour of footy #CRUvCHI
— Ollie Ritchie (@OllieRitchie1) June 28, 2020
I don’t like covered stadiums because handling in the rain is one of the skills required in the game, but oh man is this game making a compelling case for covered stadiums #CRUvCHI
— Steve (@littlesteve) June 28, 2020
After seeing the benefits that Forsyth Barr Stadium has brought to both the Highlanders and the city of Dunedin from both rugby and non-rugby perspectives, the desire for a similarly roofed stadium in Christchurch is significant.
While there is plenty of support for such a concept, the slow redevelopment of Christchurch since the earthquakes almost a decade ago has made it difficult to envisage when an arena like Forsyth Barr Stadium could be constructed in the Garden City.
That was until the last few months, when plans for a roofed 25,000-capacity stadium were signed off by the local council and national government.
Early reports suggest the $473m stadium is set to go under construction at the beginning of next year, and could be completed by 2024.
That news will be music to the ears of Crusaders fans and Super Rugby pundits alike, who will no doubt be joyed at the prospect of New Zealand’s top sides going head-to-head with dry ball at their disposal for every match played in Christchurch.