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'End of the Crusaders' dynasty': Ex-All Black on the loss to the Chiefs

By Ben Smith
Fergus Burke of the Crusaders celebrates after scoring a try during the round 10 Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Crusaders at FMG Stadium Waikato, on April 29, 2023, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Ex-All Black wing Jeff Wilson believes the end of the Crusaders dynasty has arrived after the 34-24 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.


The defending champions and six-time Super Rugby winners under Scott Robertson are currently fifth on the Super Rugby ladder after suffering their third loss of the season.

Wilson wasn’t convinced that they will be able to pull off another title after watching their ‘playoff’ mode rugby fail to work against the undefeated Chiefs.

“I think this could be the end of the Crusaders’ dynasty,” Wilson told Sky Sport’s The Breakdown.

“Because they tried to play playoff football in the round robin. Last night they tried to do what they do in the knockout stages and it didn’t work.

“They don’t have the same amount of depth and experience they’ve had in the past to be able to grind out those big moments, big plays.

“They conceded scrum penalties in the last 15 minutes of a big game and kicked the ball, just didn’t play any rugby.


“I don’t remember them trying to play for multiple phases. When they did, they made mistakes.

“I thought the standard across the board, for these two teams in terms of skill execution, I think they let themselves down.

“It was tight, it was enthralling as a contest, but both teams know they can be better.”

The Crusaders fell behind 19-7 only to rally with two tries to take the lead back heading into the final quarter.

After trading penalties and a couple of lead changes, it was the Chiefs who broke the game open and found two tries to seal the deal.

Ex-All Black fullback Mils Muliaina wasn’t prepared to write off the Crusaders just yet given the heavy injury toll they have suffered.


All Blacks Sevu Reece, Fletcher Newell and George Bower are out for the season while midfielders Jack Goodhue and David Havili have missed large stints.

All Black blindside flanker Ethan Blackadder is also sidelined currently along with a number of other players.

“I still think the Crusaders are there or thereabouts,” Muliana said.

“You have to remember they’ve been hindered by massive injuries.

“The continuity in their game has been hindered by those injuries.

“Havili is coming back into some great form, we still haven’t seen Mo’unga fire like we know he can. He’s shown glimpses, against the Blues he did.”

Wilson reiterated that regardless of the injuries, the departures at the end of the season ensure that this is the last hurrah for the playing group.

Scott Robertson will be leaving to join the All Blacks along with assistant Scott Hansen, first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga is heading to Japan while club legend Sam Whitelock is reportedly heading to France.

“What I’m saying is, it is the end of it,” Wilson argued.

“There is no Scott Robertson, no Richie Mo’unga in 2024. It’s going to be the end of it.

“It is a different Crusaders team you are going to see next season. It is the last stand for this group.”

Former Blues coach John Kirwan was prepared to give the Crusaders the benefit of the doubt and backed them to come back later in the season and challenge for the title.

“I’m going to defend the Crusaders I think the dynasty will not stop,” Kirwan said.

“There are some guys there out on that field that haven’t had big match experience. Yesterday they probably didn’t do the right things.

“I think that if they get a few more people back, start making better decisions.

“When you are continuing to build a dynasty, what needs to happen is you need to fail for those guys to step up.

“The thing about the Crusaders is, they’ll be harsh, people won’t play again if they don’t step up.

“I still think they are not the best side in the competition. I agree with half of your argument that at the moment the Crusaders aren’t good enough.

“But I don’t think it is the end of the dynasty by any means. They’ll get a few players back and come back late.”


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Shayne 411 days ago

Haha and Sam cane is the best player in the game,,if Canterbury make the final my money is on them .

Matt 412 days ago

As a staunch Crusaders supporter I think its far too early to write them off. We've seen time and again how they rise to the challenge. Mo'Unga had one of his quiet nights vs the Chiefs. Can't say I can work out where his on/off switch resides.

It often looked like it could have gone either way and the bounce of the ball played a very large part in that game.

For me its a bit like when the Blue's counted their Chickens after a perfect season and then the Crusaders played an almost perfect game and came up and thumped them in the final.

Karena 413 days ago

Yeah your right they're not the crusaders of old but dismiss them at your peril,I'm a chiefs fan,always will be but always pay respect. Chiefs have good chemistry good coach, good management but the job's not done yet

Sophie 414 days ago

The Crusaders are alot of things, however, one thing they're not is dead & buried! Everyone in NZ apart from Canterbury would like to see it that way wouldn't they?! Maybe those are valid remarks you make, Mr Wilson, however, have you even glanced at your beloved Highlanders recently?! Looks as though they might need a bit of support too, doesn't it? Commentary during & after the game is so biased, when it needs to remain impartial when it's your employment.

Shane 414 days ago

Totally agree the Crusaders dynasty is dead and buried. On Saturday night while both sides were warming up it was interesting watching Robertson turn his back on the Crusaders to just watch the Chiefs. Not only did he turn his back on his team, he actually walked closer to the Chiefs. During the warm ups Robertson walked over the hallway line and stood on the 10 meter line watching the Chiefs. Tell me this isn't the sign of a desperate coach looking for answers!!

Jackson 414 days ago

Gosh Sharon we all knew Canterbury people were “one eyed”& couldn’t see past their boarders, but you take the cake. You are now claiming America as part of Canterbury. Dribble on, gosh sorry dream on I should have said

sharon 414 days ago

Jeff Wilson is a has been and never says a good thing about the Crusaders he’s just an old jealous ex player. Never says a nice thing about Canterbury players and coaches. We in America wish he would be replaced he is suppose to be impartial. Wouldn’t last here in the US nor would Kirstie Stanway they would get rid of them off tv as very one eyed. Mils and JK have open minds and read the game, injuries etc. Never write Canterbury off ever they are the most successful province ever, get the coaches, think about the Canterbury boys that have come from there and playing
and coaching throughout NZ and the world first class they are everywhere. How many NZ coaches over the last years have come from Canterbury? Acknowledge it Wilson and Stanway what has Chiefs done over the past 6 years?

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