Some of Canterbury’s most promising young rugby talent will be on display this weekend as the Crusader Knights take on the Wellington Development team at Rugby Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Crusader Knights is Canterbury’s development squad and includes both players from the Crusaders wider training group and development players selected from academies within the Crusaders franchise area. This year’s squad includes ten players from Tasman, two mid-Canterbury players, and one from the South Canterbury Rugby Football Union. The remaining players come from the Canterbury Rugby Football Union.
Fresh from a development camp at Lincoln University, Crusader Knights head coach Matt Sexton says the squad is looking forward to putting its skills to the test against some tough competition. “This is a brilliant opportunity for some of our most talented young players to gain match experience at a higher level. It compliments the work that the Crusaders are doing by allowing non-selected Crusaders squad members to get match practice, and it also gives the franchise development players the chance to play alongside some of these more experienced players.”
As well as the upcoming games against the Wellington, Blues and Highlanders development squads, the Crusader Knights will come up against Fiji A and Tonga A in the Pacific Rugby Cup. “These will be very hard fought games with some top international players. Cantabrians are lucky to have these first-class fixtures at Rugby Park for free,” Sexton said. “It would be great to get some big crowds at these games, and hopefully Canterbury’s Pacific Island community will turn out to support their teams.”
Crusaders hooker Ben Funnell will captain the Canterbury Knights in their first match against the Wellington Development team at Rugby Park, 2:45pm this Saturday (18 February). On 24 February they will meet the Blues Development team at Waitemata RFC, and on 3 March they will play the Highlanders Development team at Logan Park in Dunedin. The Pacific Rugby Cup kicks off with a match against Fiji A on 9 March followed by Tonga A on 15 March, both at Rugby Park. All Crusaders Knights fixtures are free to attend.