2006 Super 14 Final
|Date||27 May 2006|
|Stadium||Jade Stadium, Christchurch|
|TV in New Zealand|
The Final of the 2006 Super 14 season, a rugby union competition in the Southern Hemisphere, took place on 27 May 2006 at Jade Stadium in Christchurch, New Zealand. The match was won by the Crusaders 19 points to 12 over the visiting Wellington-based side, the Hurricanes. The match featured low lying sea fog which prevented many in the crowd, as well as the television cameras and commentators, from seeing the action. The match had one try, to Crusaders' centre, Casey Laulala which was scored in the second half. The match has been nicknamed the "Gorillas in the Mist", after the film of the same name.
Road to the Final
Pos Name Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts 1 Crusaders 13 11 1 1 412 210 202 5 51 2 Hurricanes 13 10 0 3 328 226 102 7 47 3 Waratahs 13 9 0 4 362 192 170 9 45 4 Bulls 13 7 1 5 355 290 65 7 38 5 Sharks 13 7 0 6 361 297 64 10 38 6 Brumbies 13 8 1 4 326 269 57 4 38 7 Chiefs 13 7 1 5 325 298 27 6 36 8 Blues 13 6 0 7 290 344 −54 5 29 9 Highlanders 13 6 0 7 228 276 −48 3 27 10 Cheetahs 13 5 0 8 272 367 −95 7 27 11 Stormers 13 4 1 8 263 334 −71 5 23 12 Reds 13 4 0 9 240 320 −80 6 22 13 Cats 13 2 1 10 220 405 −185 5 15 14 Force 13 1 2 10 223 373 −150 4 12
The Crusaders finished top of the table, following a strong season at home and only one loss, away to the Stormers in Cape Town, which ended their 17 game winning streak, and drawing a game in Perth against soon-to-be wooden spooners, the Western Force.
The Hurricanes made the final after back-to-back wins over the Waratahs in round 14, in Sydney, and then the first semi-final, played in Wellington. The Hurricanes finished second on the table, losing only three matches, in the round robin, to the Cheetahs, the Crusaders and the Brumbies. The home semi-final was the first time the Hurricanes franchise hosted a playoffs match.
The game was expected to be centred around the defence of both sides. The Hurricanes entered the final with an average points-against of 15 against New Zealand sides, the Crusaders were slightly better, with 14. The weather was not building up to be a huge factor, with clouds and rain forecast. The Crusaders had finished the 2006 season at the top of the ladder, and defeated the Bulls to claim the home-final as they were the highest ranked side. The Hurricanes finished the season in second position, and defeated the New South Wales Waratahs to meet the Crusaders in the final.
The Crusaders went into the match with no reserve scrum-half after Andrew Ellis went off injured against the Bulls the week before. This meant if starting half Kevin Senio was injured, Cameron McIntyre would come on and Daniel Carter would move into scrum-half.
About an hour before kick-off at Jade Stadium, an unusual thick fog floated over the stadium. The players and officials were asked whether they wanted to persist with the game, with both parties agreeing that the match should go on, although some speculated it might be pushed over to Sunday. As the sides ran out onto the field the players almost disappeared into the mist. The commentary box could not make out anything on the opposite side of the field from where they were. This forced a commentary split, with the sideline commentator taking up the duties when the play was on the opposite side to the commentary box. Some of the television footage was relatively clear with many camera angles and positions different from a normal game broadcast, though many thought they could have done better with more cameras repositioned to the far side of the field.
The poor visibility prevented much free-flowing play, as players struggled to see one another. Bombs and high kicks created havoc for both teams, with both back lines making unusual mistakes. There were many examples of the ball suddenly appearing below the hanging mist, making it difficult to field many kicks. Overall the crowd at Jade Stadium had a poor view of the match, with most of the south stand turning around to watch the match on the stadium's big-screen. The Sky Sports commentators saw many patrons in the upper levels rushing home or to other establishments to watch coverage on television. Officials admitted that the match would have been postponed if the fog had been any thicker.
In one of the opening exchanges, Crusaders wing Rico Gear dropped the ball from a high kick, the resulting play lead to a Hurricanes penalty. David Holwell missed the penalty attempt, it being taken from 30m out and near the touchline. The Hurricanes scored first through a long range Piri Weepu penalty goal in the 12th minute. Daniel Carter had an opportunity to level the scores with a penalty kick, but missed as well. Carter did two penalties, leaving the half time score 6–3 in favour of the home side. Weepu went down several times in the first half and was momentarily knocked out.
Holwell tied the match up four minutes after the interval, but Carter put the Crusaders back in front with a penalty two minutes later. Holwell was then substituted for Jimmy Gopperth, in what may have been Holwell's final first-class match. Gopperth kicked the Hurricanes' third penalty, once again evening up the scores. The Crusaders struck back though, with a try to Casey Laulala near the right hand upright. Carter converted, put the Crusaders out to a 16–9 lead. Carter then extended the lead out to 19–9 on the 69 minute mark, before Gopperth scored a penalty with ten minutes remaining. The match ended with the Hurricanes attempting to run it out from their own 22, needing a converted try. Reuben Thorne forced a turnover though, and hooker Corey Flynn kicked the ball into touch for the Crusaders' sixth Super rugby title, and first Super 14 title.
Many after the match criticised the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and the Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU) for allowing the match to be played in such poor conditions. Former All Black first five-eighth, Grant Fox, defended the decision, citing that the fog came in around 6:30 p.m., around one hour before kick-off, making it a logistical nightmare to attempt to postpone it.
The decision to allow Weepu to continue playing (after being knocked out) also drew criticism from medical experts, including former All Blacks' doctor, John Mayhew. "Get the player off. Assume that his day is over and go on from there. Whether it's a test match or Super 14 final or a rugby league game", Mayhew told NZPA. Hurricanes doctor, Ian Murphy said on Tuesday 30 May that he was unaware that Weepu was knocked out. "By the time I got to Piri out on the field he was conscious and I could not fault him in terms of his responses to my concussion-related questions" said Murphy. Weepu revealed after the match that he was suffering from amnesia, and could recall very little about the final.
Post-match "handbag incident"
Former All Black captain Tana Umaga and Chris Masoe were involved in an altercation after the final in the The Jolly Poacher, a bar in Christchurch. Masoe tripped over a male patron's feet whilst walking in the bar. Umaga then intervened, by taking Masoe aside and began hitting him with a nearby women's handbag. The mobile phone inside the bag was broken in the process.
After the incident, Masoe was fined NZ$3000 by the NZRU and it was reported that he punched another patron at the bar. All Black coach, Graham Henry said that he believes that the All Black players may have been discussing Umaga's technique. Umaga received no fine from the NZRU, but replaced the broken phone. The handbag that was used by Umaga was placed on the TradeMe auction website after the event, and at the close of bidding was sold for NZ$22,800.
The incident was later parodied by the Australian television network, Seven, in the build up for the 2006 Tri Nations Series, in a television commercial. The commercial featured the All Blacks performing the haka, with digitally enhanced handbags over their shoulders. New Zealand officials later complained about the ad, saying that it was insensitive to Umaga.
The following is one exchange:
- Commentator Grant Nisbett:"Toeava kicks off"
- Colour Commentator Murray Mexted:"Not 10, is it?"
- Nisbett:"I don't know" – This type of commentating was typical during the night.
- "That one could've landed in the main street of New Brighton for all we know, Nisbo"- Tony Johnson
The following is one exchange:
- "Not trying to steal your thunder, Nisbo, I just don't know whether you'll be able to see that from where you are." – Sideline Commentator Tony Johnson.
- "I haven't got a clue, Tony, you're dead right. I cannot see the other side of the field." – Grant Nisbett
- "The conditions were unbelievable to play in", – Crusaders captain, Richie McCaw
- "I don't know what the crowd saw because it was tough out here. We tried to keep it simple. We knew we had to keep it tighter. There were a few mistakes with the slippery ball. It wasn't pretty but getting there was great. We kept our composure. We were really hungry on defence, we forced the turnovers and played it down their end of the paddock and that was the key we were able to convert pressure into points."- McCaw
- "We're pretty disappointed with the result but we're very pleased with the way we went this year. Both teams defended well and it was pretty hard to crack but that try really cost us at the end. It was very difficult, you could hardly see the ball but I think both teams played pretty well considering the conditions." – Hurricanes captain, Rodney So'oialo
On the fog
- "Possibly 10 to 15 percent of the people around us left and we're obviously pretty disappointed, and I've heard a fair bit of talkback [radio] this morning with some very grumpy people." – Crusaders fan
- "But not all the fans missed out. It turns out the lower down in the stands and closer to the touchline you were, the better." – Peter Lewis
- "We actually ironically had a fairly good view, apart from the far third of the field, and then we could actually have a quick squiz at the TV." – Hurricanes fan
- "But at the end of the day, there was no safety issues for players. The stadium was happy there were no safety issues for spectators." – CRFU CEO, Hamish Riach.
- "It wasn't really the spectacle rugby fans had hoped or paid for – thick fog instead of football. Visibility was poor from all parts of the stadium, and for once it wasn't a factor of how much you'd paid for your seat, the action equally obscured for corporate high flyers and those in the cheap seats. Some turned and watched the stadium's giant screens, but that was only partially helpful. Others simply gave up altogether and went home or to nearby pubs to watch it on TV or listen to the radio" – Peter Lewis
|Try: Laulala 62' c
Con: Carter (1/1)
Pen: Carter (4) 32', 37', 46', 69'
|Report||Pen: Weepu 14'
Gopperth 56', 70'
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2005 Super 12 Final
|Super 14 Final
2007 Super 14 Final