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Kiwis' racking up the air miles

Rico GearThanks to the Bulls 92-3 massacre of the hapless Reds (a Super Rugby record margin), both the Super-14 semi-finals are being played in South Africa, and the Crusaders and Blues face the hurdles of a time-consuming flights, jet-lag from crossing 8 hours of time zones, hostile home crowds and (in the case of the Crusaders) Loftus's rarefied atmosphere and odd musical accompaniments. On the plus side they are racking up the air miles.


Final standing in Super 14 log










Rico Gear left his newborn son for duty in SA

Flying over the bluish indian ocean

On Saturday the Auckland Blues play the Sharks at Kings Park's shark tank in Durban. After beating the Western Force 33-6 to secure their place in the semi-finals, the Blues flew the width of Australia from Perth to Sydney to wait and see what happened in the Sharks-Stormers and Bulls-Reds matches, and whether they'd be boarding a plane to New Zealand to face the Crusaders or to South Africa. As it happens they hopped onto a flight to Johannesburg on Saturday, and then went on to Durban, arriving their on Sunday evening. In Durban, they'll be facing the Sharks, who beat them earlier in the Super 14 in Auckland. They have the physical and psychological hill to get over the long flight to Durban - first the Blues were on a 14 hours and 10 minutes flight from Sydney to Johannesburg and then a 1 hour and 10 minute flight from Johannesburg to Durban; that's 15 hours and 20 minutes that they were sitting in planes. If that were not bad enough, they're also facing the jetlag from having crossed 8 hours of time zones from Sydney to Johannesburg.

On a Crusade

The "Crusaders" will find about as much support in the Loftus bullring on Saturday, as they have amongst the muslim community. Add to this their travelling schedule and one can see why they have their backs up against it. On Sunday, the Crusaders hopped onto a flight from Christchurch to Sydney, where they spent the night. They catch a flight from Sydney to Johannesburg on Monday and then head on to Durban (I hope they like flying!) - this tallies up to 18 hours and 50 minutes of travelling to Durban and then a 70 minute flight from Durban to Johannesburg late this week (20 hours of flying). The team is basing itself in Durban in the lead up to the semi-final, which is to be played on Saturday night. This is the 9th semi-final which the Crusaders have qualified for, but they have never played a Super rugby semi-final in South Africa and certainly never played one in the bullring.


...and bad boy is on his way back again

Ali Williams, an Auckland Blues lock, has been sent home from South Africa in disgrace barely having set foot in South Africa. Williams ignored four separate warnings over his behaviour in Australia, including late night drinking sessions and what is described as a lack of respect for the team's speculated that further incriminating information on his antics came to light on the long flight to Johannesburg.




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