Crusaders admit damaging Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy

The Crusaders celebrate with the Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy after their win over the Highlanders...
The Crusaders celebrate with the Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy after their win over the Highlanders in Christchurch at the weekend. Photo: Getty
The Crusaders are seeking "cultural advice" after damaging the custom-made Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy during celebrations after claiming an unprecedented fourth successive title at the weekend.

Chief executive Colin Mansbridge confirmed to The New Zealand Herald that Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa, a unique trophy made in Ōtaki and that was presented to the team on Sunday, was dropped after the match against the Highlanders in Christchurch.

The Crusaders won a fourth Super Rugby title in as many campaigns by defeating the Highlanders 32-22 in the penultimate round of the competition.

"The Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy was designed to be touched and passed around. Following the match on Sunday, the trophy has accidentally been dropped and incurred some minor damage," Mansbridge said.

"We have notified New Zealand Rugby, and sought cultural advice. Repairs will be made as soon as possible."

The Super Rugby trophy with damage to bottom left. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
The Super Rugby trophy with damage to bottom left. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
While one photo shows only minor damage, 1 News showed other photos of the trophy missing a piece of pounamu. 

A source claimed a message was sent out to everyone in the franchise to search for the pounamu, which was subsequently found, 1 News said.

The trophy was created by Ōtaki carver Bill Doyle and designed in consultation with Te Wānanga o Raukawa master-carver Jason Hina.

Doyle told the Horowhenua Chronicle the designs in the wood were puhoro, traditional Māori leg tattoo, and unanahi, which represent the scales of a fish.

The trophy represents the coming together of the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders in the wake of the disruption and turmoil caused by Covid-19.

Super Rugby Aotearoa is a Kiwi-only competition that started in June after the regular Super Rugby season, also featuring teams from South Africa, Australia, Japan and Argentina, was suspended due to the pandemic.

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