The Crusaders have been welcomed home by a jubilant horde of fans at Christchurch Airport, following their drought-breaking Super Rugby success.
The team won their first Super Rugby title since 2008 – and their eighth overall – with a 25-17 victory over the Lions on Sunday morning, and brought the trophy back home tonight.
Arriving at 10.30pm from Sydney, the Crusaders received a passionate welcome from fans who have waited nine years for the local side to get back on top.
Hundreds of supporters clothed in red and black waved flags, sang and cheered as the team appeared. Grinning players took their time moving through the airport, signing jerseys and taking selfies with their fans and the Super Rugby Trophy.
The players have had some time to celebrate in Johannesburg, with coach Scott Robertson basking in the success – breakdancing after the game before signifying a long night ahead by saying “My next priority is just to make the plane.”
With Robertson safely back in New Zealand, the Crusaders will be able to soak in the success on home soil briefly, before the players disperse to join the All Blacks or their provincial Mitre 10 Cup team.
A parade will be held at 4pm in Christchurch central tomorrow to welcome the team and trophy home. The team will walk from Cambridge Tce along Worcester Boulevard to arrive at the Christchurch Art Gallery around 4.15pm.
For 10 of the Crusaders, the day will be especially special, after being named in the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship this afternoon.
Forwards Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Joe Moody, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Scott Barrett and Kieran Read will all pull on the black jersey, as will backs Ryan Crotty and Israel Dagg.
While those players will be chasing more silverware, several of the other Crusaders will join Canterbury for their provincial season, with Canterbury having won eight of the last nine provincial championships.