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'Icon of Crusaders rugby' Owen Franks returns to the red and black

By Ned Lester
Owen Franks (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

The team with the most All Blacks-heavy prop stocks in Super Rugby Pacific just got even deeper, as the Crusaders announced the signing of Owen Franks on Wednesday.

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Franks, now 35 years of age, spent the 2022 and ’23 seasons with the Hurricanes as he returned to Super Rugby after time abroad playing for Toulouse in France’s Top 14 and the Northhampton Saints.

The veteran has over 150 caps in the red and black jersey to his name, last donning the colours in 2019, having won a three-peat with the team.

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With four All Black props already in the squad, the Crusaders pose an immense challenge at scrum time and even without Franks on the field, the scrum guru’s presence in the gym and around the team will be influential, especially for youngsters Fletcher Newell and Tamaiti Williams – the former of whom has credited Franks’ mentorship in the past.

Finlay Brewis is the only prop in the Crusaders’ ranks without an All Blacks appearance to his name, with Joe Moody and George Bower returning from injury to contest the team’s young stars’ starting roles.

“I’m really looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the other front rowers and competing with them,” Franks said. “They’re all world-class in my opinion, so it’ll be great to be a part of that unit.”

For the test centurion, 2024 was always going to be spent back home in Canterbury, and landing a deal with the Crusaders has offered a chance to do what he loves while being back with family.

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“I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity to play for the Crusaders and represent my people and my home,” Franks continued. 

“Coming back makes me realise what a privilege it is to play for this club.

“I’m playing rugby at this stage of my career because I enjoy it and still have plenty to give.”

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Incoming Crusaders coach Rob Perrin is inheriting quite the squad from his predecessor Scott Robertson and is expecting his most recent signing to bring some big contributions, on and off the field.

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“He’s the ultimate professional and at 35 years of age is in his prime for a front rower,” Perrin said.

“From what I’ve seen of his games for Toulouse, he’s in some of the best form of his career.”

Penney continued, saying the club was “pleased and excited to welcome back an icon of Crusaders rugby”.

“Owen has already made a significant contribution to this team, and we can’t wait for him to continue to do this throughout our 2024 campaign.”

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Red and White Dynamight 4 hours ago
Duhan van der Merwe hat-trick sinks sloppy England to win Calcutta Cup

Up the Jocks ! a great team effort and 4 victories v on the bounce v their greatest rivals for those north of Hadrians. But, of course, before the celebrations survive the first pint of McEwans, it seems for some this Calcutta Cup match was merely 1 man v 15. What exactly is it about Sth Africans that make them such insufferable bores ? you rarely see Kiwis claiming Ireland victories (incl 3 x NZers) or Aussies for that matter (X1). You never see Samoans claiming France/England victories (Tuilagis). Or Fijians claim All Black victories. Scotland have had some great Kiwi-born players (S.Lineen/B.Laney/J.Leslie) - no surprise given their heritage - but they supported them as their ‘2nd team’. If anything they applaud their countrymen for taking opportunities and bettering themselves as professionals and, hopefully, competing on the World stage too. It takes some stratospheric level of stupid to ignore the opaque boundaries and qualifications that now allow Japan to be competitive, Portugal to win a RWC game, Argentinians to play for Italy, New Zealanders to dominate Tongan and Samoan teams - and not celebrate that World Rugby is more competitive and better for it. Everywhere on social media, even when the post has zero to do with Sth Africans (schoolboy rugby being the most obvious barrel-scraping eg - these are KIDS), they pile in and try to claim the “we are better/stronger/faster” with such voluminous levels of obnoxious bile, that it poisons the mere celebration of the sport itself. These are not ‘rugby fans’ that can marvel at the Game they Play in Heaven, but rather some misplaced insecure-fuelled poison that they need to extract from deep inside their psyche. Its hard to understand the exact reason for the massive chip on their shoulders and their desperation for the victimhood/noone-loves-us-we-dont-care, but it seems accelerated with their LOTTO Cup 1-pt wins, like gasoline on the fire. Obsessed with ‘cheating’ refs and ‘cheating’ opposition (Rassies video bloopers during Lions tour; McCaw’s whole career) and celebrating their own thuggery (#JUSTICE4 the dirtiest player in pro-rugby history), when luck suddenly goes their way (1995 Final vs an acutely comprimised ABs; Kilosi<->Cane cards in 2023 Final) or their players escape adequate penalty (Etzebeth 1-handed non-intercepts; Kolbe illegal chargedown; Etzebeth cynically retreating in the AB backline) so obviously that its clearly been coached, then suddenly its AOK as long its SA that benefit directly from it. The schizophrenic nature of Sth Africans presents them as good company in person - and lets face it, theyre EVERYWHERE now and cant get out of their own country fast enough - but as anonymous keyboard ninjas their true nature shines out as one beset with a dark undercurrent of toxic self-absorption. It appears that the bravado appears only under the protection of anonymity, a cowardice of insufferable reverse-flagellation to make themselves feel proud when the mirror stares back at them. Give yourselves a long slow clap. Well done to the entire Scotland team including all those born south of Hadrians Wall. Playing a fantastic fast pace of fluid ball-in-hands rugby that seems almost foreign to other teams. Och aye the noo.

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