The Crusaders (formerly the Canterbury Crusaders) are a New Zealand professional Rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the SupeRugby competition.
They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008). The franchise represents the Buller, Canterbury, Mid-Canterbury, South Canterbury, Tasman and West Coast provincial Rugby unions. Their main home ground is AMI Stadium, formerly Jade Stadium.
Formed in 1996 to represent the upper South Island of New Zealand in the Super 12, the team struggled in its first season and finished last. Their performance improved in 1997 and the team finished sixth (out of twelve teams).
The team went on to win all three titles from 1998 to 2000 despite each final being played away from home. They again won the competition in 2002 after going through the season unbeaten. In the following two seasons, they again reached the final, although they were beaten on both occasions.
2005 was the last season of the Super 12 before its expansion. After finishing top of the table in that season, the Crusaders went on to host the final in which they defeated the Waratahs. As a result of winning their fifth Super 12 title, the Crusaders were given the trophy to keep. In 2006, the Crusaders hosted the Hurricanes in the inaugural Super 14 final and won 19-12. In 2008 the Crusaders hosted the final at AMI Stadium against the Waratahs, and won the match 20-12 to claim their seventh title.
In addition to winning more Super Rugby titles than any other team (7), the franchise also holds several competition records, including most points in a game and most tries in a game, both achieved in their 96-19 victory over the Waratahs in 2002.
Ironically the Crusaders also hold the record for the least points scored in a game when they were defeated by the Highlanders 6-0 in 2009.
They have also scored the most points (541) and most tries (71) in one season, both achieved in 2005. Several members of the Crusaders also hold records: Andrew Mehrtens for most points in a Super 12 season (206 in 1998), Daniel Carter (221 in 2006) did hold the record for most points in Super 14, until he was surpassed in the 2010 Super 14 season by Morne Steyn (263), and Rico Gear for most tries in a season (15 in 2005).
Six players have played over 100 games for the franchise: Justin Marshall, Reuben Thorne, Caleb Ralph, Greg Somerville, Leon MacDonald and Richie McCaw. They also have two International Rugby Board Players of the Year: Dan Carter (2005), and Richie McCaw (2006),(2009) and (2010).
The Crusaders are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008).