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Melbourne switch off for double-booked Crusaders

Moves to switch the Canterbury Crusaders' home Super 12 match with Queensland Reds next year have been dashed by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU).

The Crusaders were considering shifting their round three home match against Queensland to Melbourne after their home ground Lancaster Park in Christchurch was made unavailable by a clash with the first Trans-Tasman cricket Test between New Zealand and Australia.

But the Christchurch-based franchise said the March 12 match would be played in either nearby Blenheim or Nelson after the NZRU board instructed against taking the match off-shore.

Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said five of the franchise's seven provincial unions had supported the proposal to play in Melbourne.

"The commercial benefits were attractive which would have in turn benefited our franchise partners and we wanted to think outside the square and look to the future," he said.

NZRU boss Chris Moller said he encouraged the Crusaders to put the proposal to the NZRU board as a test case for playing off-shore.

"We wanted to take a look at it and discuss the idea, but ultimately the board decided it was best to keep the game within the Crusaders' franchise which is consistent with the current franchise agreements," he said.

-AFP

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