JOHANNESBURG - Impossible is now possible. That is the basic story of what the Crusaders have been able to do on their way to extending their championship winning run to an eighth Super Rugby title.
In beating the Lions 25-17 in Saturday’s Super Rugby final at Ellis Park, the New Zealanders not only added another title to their already decorated history in the competition but they became the first side to cross the Indian Ocean to win the trophy.
They defied the odds by breaking an impressive record that the Lions held of not having lost a knockout game against New Zealand opposition in the past two years and furthermore upset the popular belief by winning as overwhelming underdogs.
In the process of winning the trophy, the Crusaders elevated their coach Scott Robertson to rugby immortality as the only man who has won Super Rugby as a player and a coach.
The breakdancing and eccentric Robertson has been humbled by his history-making feat and has given much credit to his team’s success to the determination and desire of his players.
“To win against the Brumbies away and to win this away and be the only two teams to do it is what Crusaders do and what I am proud of. We really worked hard to create opportunities to create history and this is just another part of our history,” Robertson said after Saturday’s historic feat.
"We get asked questions every time about not winning this competition in a while and that we are expected to do it. The fact that we have now done it means that we won’t have those questions for a while but we did it for ourselves, our people and the past Crusaders as well.
"There has been high expectation and we have a number of All Blacks that have won at international level but not at franchise level and they have now as a Crusader and we have put that well to bed."
Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock echoed Robertson’s sentiments and with a host of All Blacks in their team who have won everything there is to in world rugby, the fact that they had not won Super Rugby was a terrible monkey on their backs.
The current Crusaders side is probably the most talented of all of their championship winning teams but to have not won a Super Rugby title in the past nine years was an albatross around their necks that they could not wait to rid themselves of.
After losing one match during the round robin stages of this year’s campaign, it was never going to be a foregone conclusion that the Lions were going to be crowned champions and earn the fairytale ending that they were looking for ahead of their coach Johan Ackermann’s departure for England.
The Crusaders did enough during the season and in Saturday’s epic encounter to end off as deserved champions and there will be no better people than the residents of the disaster struck Christchurch to celebrate this monumental achievement according to Whitelock.
“We were talking about it before that a number of us have been here for eight or nine years and have never tasted victory. Out there it was awesome just to look at your mate in the eye and no words spoken and just emotion came out from everyone," Whitelock said.
"To have that feeling is amazing and not only for us but the guys at home too that have had a massive year. We can’t wait to get home and connect with them again and share these moments with them."