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Super Rugby's most storied rivalry prepares for its annual off-road experience

By Alex McLeod

Trending on RugbyPass

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Since Super Rugby’s inception in 1996, the Crusaders and Highlanders have established one of the competition’s fiercest rivalries.

The lure of South Island supremacy has ensured every clash between the mainland neighbours is one not to be missed.

That will hold true again this Friday when the two sides etch another chapter into the history books as the Farmlands Cup goes up for grabs in Temuka, South Canterbury.

The annual contest has become a staple of both franchise’s pre-season campaigns since 2016, with Farmlands taking the two sides into rural South Island townships in an ongoing show of community support and engagement.

In years gone by, the likes of Waimumu, Darfield, Southbridge and Wanaka have set the stage for the Farmlands Cup, but this year it is Temuka’s turn to host the highly-anticipated fixture.

By holding the event at Temuka Rugby Club, Farmlands will bring some of Super Rugby’s biggest names to one of New Zealand’s most passionate rugby fanbases.

Temuka’s passion for the Farmlands Cup is reflected in the sold out crowd for Friday’s encounter, a prospect Highlanders head coach Tony Brown is looking forward to as his side prepares to square off against the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions.

“I think the pre-season games are always pretty exciting,” he said.

“We had one last year in Wanaka where the field was surrounded by trucks and people sitting on temporary grandstands and things like that.

“It’s a good atmosphere, and I think it’s sold-out in Temuka as well, so it’ll be something different and unique.

“Those country grounds, I think the players enjoy that atmosphere.”

As for the Crusaders, they will be aiming to retain the Farmlands Cup after taking out last year’s clash 41-7 at Wanaka Showgrounds.

That was the third time the Crusaders had locked away the Farmlands Cup, and head coach Scott Robertson would love nothing more than to notch a fourth victory over their southern rivals in front of a home crowd.

There is always a lot of anticipation leading into the first game of the season, and the chance to represent our wider Crusaders region in front of a full crowd at Temuka Rugby Club is really exciting for our squad,” he said.

The match isn’t solely about bragging rights, however, with Farmlands pledging over $25,000 to local charities of the Crusaders’ and Highlanders’ choice in previous years.

It also hands local legends of the South Island’s farming community the chance to see some of New Zealand’s elite players live in their own backyards.

“Our farmers and some growers often experience a quieter period through the later summer months, so what better time to take a day off farm and cheer on your favourite southern Super Rugby team,” Farmlands Shareholder Services Manager (Canterbury) Doug Maginness said.

“The Farmlands Cup is an excellent time to catch up with mates and support local businesses in the South Canterbury community.

“We are thrilled to be supporting the match as it reaches its sixth year of connecting our shareholders with the best and brightest of New Zealand rugby.”

Live coverage of the 2021 edition of the Farmlands Cup commences at 5:25pm on Friday 11 February, exclusively on Sky Sport 1, Sky Go and Sky Sport Now. If you are not already a subscriber, click here to activate your free 7 day trial.

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Super Rugby's most storied rivalry prepares for its annual off-road experience

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