Don’t be fooled by the Crusaders start to the season: They are still boasting plenty of NZ Rugby talent in their ranks


It has taken a few worrying weeks for Crusaders fans, but finally, the reigning champions are on the board with their first win.

Coming into the game between last year’s finalists, the odds were all against the Crusaders, especially given that they had no wins up until round 5.

I believe the chances of beating the Australian teams in the weeks ahead have grown to better than 50/50 due to this one victory boosting the team’s confidence levels.

Even against all the New Zealand Super teams, it was looking hard to see where their next win was coming from.

But now there’s a chance that they can still win all remaining matches, reach playoffs, including the grand final – and even win the competition for the year, just like for the past seven years in a row.

If the Crusaders winning the competition was to eventuate again, it would be good for them – but it would not be good for Super Rugby as a whole.

It would continue to dilute the ‘quality’ of the competition overall.

The Crusaders have dominantly always shown why they are champs for the last seven years, and in my opinion, it is mostly because of the amount of ‘internationally capped players’ they’ve got in one squad.

Each time the Crusaders dominate Super Rugby their number of internationally capped players seems to rise.

There’s also the question of, whether they are too dominant against all teams in Super Rugby. Aside from the first five rounds, the answer is yes.

If not the match scores so far this season, definitely squad depth, especially the amount of internationally capped players reflect that.

Some INSANE tries in this 2019 classic which saw the Chiefs rally to win after being down 20-0 ????

Will the Crusaders defend their home turf against a surging Chiefs?#SuperRugbyPacific

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 28, 2024

It’s time something got done about Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby needs to step up its game for the good of the competition, and find some way of equalising the talent.

When it comes to the total of internationally capped players they’ve got in one squad, it comes to 18 this year, after last year it was 21 players.

When you compare to other teams:


2023: 15
2024: 13


2023: 16
2024: 12


2023: 11
2024: 8


2023: 8
2024: 5

Are the Crusaders taking more than their fair share of the talent?

Crusaders during their game against Fijian Drua. (Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

I think the answer is yes. The bigger the stretch, the more unfairness it brings to the competition and the quality of competition gets worse if no action from SANNZAR or NZR.

If the predictability of the game becomes more and more obvious each year, engagement in the competition will continue to plummet, while player development will suffer as a consequence.

Super Rugby teams rely on more titles in order to grow the amount of internationally capped players and internationally capped leaders.

One potential solution to this crisis would be to put a limit on the talent pool, or basically for Crusaders to be forced into handing over some of their players to each of the other NZ Super Rugby teams to make a more competitive playing field.

In my eyes, this would see a less predictable competition.

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It definitely would improve the performance of each team, making each them more competitive on a more even basis, and stopping the Crusaders from hoarding players.

Does anyone else have any ideas for solving the Christchurch-based side’s internationally capped talent dilemma?

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