Hundreds welcome home champion Crusaders

The Crusaders have been welcomed home by hundreds of fans at Christchurch Airport late at night after beating the Lions 25-17 to become Super Rugby champions.

The team arrived home on Monday night holding their prized possession, the Super Rugby championship trophy, with Captain Sam Whitelock first to be greeted with cheers.

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    The Crusaders’ triumph over the Lions in the Super Rugby final at Ellis Park is one of the few things that did go right this season in a competition that has lost its way and is in dire need of a dramatic shakeup.

“The feeling here is amazing, the amount of people dressed up is really special, and the whole team has been excited to get back,” Whitelock said.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was glad to be home to greet fans, and is the first person to have won the title as a player and a coach.

“Someone just told me the other day (I’m) the first to win both, so I’ll take some time to reflect on that,” Robertson said.

The Crusaders last won the Super Rugby competition in 2008.

The Crusaders celebrate with the Super Rugby trophy Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The celebrations will continue in Christchurch on Tuesday, with a reception outside the Christchurch Art Gallery from around 4.15pm – timed so school children can attend.

“They did us all so proud and I know so many people will want to congratulate them for what they have achieved,” Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

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