Hell, I don't know! Enough to say that I thought it would be great, that away games were well spaced and that we would bounce back from the bye to beat the Blues. And it all went to plan!
I do what I can...:-)
Pre-season: What I do know is that everybody tries to organise a few friendly games, to help gauge the teams readiness for the season. The only problem is that the main-stream media aren't interested in telling us anything about them!
Here is a headline from RugbyHeaven: "Reds spoil debut for Thorn with win over Canterbury"
Yes, well at least now we know (12, 10 by the way). Not much noise on the radio about that game, it may have been on the TV news, but I wasn't listening too closely. Only started paying attention when Rhys Duggan was injured playing for the Chiefs (I think).
Congrat's to the Blues who managed to loose two of their first choice locks in their warm-up game against Queensland country. Robin Brooke and Troy Flavell are both expected to miss the first competition game of the season. But hey, the Blues did manage to win 69 zip:-(
Of course that was last week. There is another headline on RugbyHeaven that suggests they didn't prevail against the Waratahs.
However you and I know that apart from ego trips, these pre-season games don't mean an awful lot. It is hard to gauge the ability of either team when they may be serious, or they may just be trying out combinations.
However when the season begins, and there are points to be gained, the news coverage will swing into action.
2001 Draw: Well it isn't a dream draw, but it isn't too bad either. The only highlight is a regular spacing of home and away games. We do manage to have 6 away games this year, so with the traditional "home" game in Nelson there isn't much there for season ticket holders!
On with the draw:
23rd Feb - Brumbies in Canberra Are these guys going to get any easier to beat? Might as well get it out of the way. This is when those pre-season games will really count. We play the Reds and Waratahs, who have the Ponies played? The Chefs!?! Don't get me started!!
2nd Mar - Blues in Auckland We have an unfair advantage over the Blues, we really have a thing about Auckland! We consider them arch rivals - but Auckland really just treat us like any other team. That means that we always win the physc'ed up prize. And will the Blues' locks be back? Looking forward to a win again this year!
10th Mar - Chiefs in Christchurch Based on last year, you would have to say this was easy pickings. But then, by the end of the S12 last year they were starting to fire. So who knows? I do! First home game, I expect some carnage!
16th Mar - Bye Aargh! At least those early season injuries get a chance to heal!
23rd Mar - Reds in Christchurch 31st Mar - Hurricanes in Christchurch Both good teams to play at home... Hey, and we are playing them at home!! Think that we lost to both away last year (actually the Reds game was the really ordinary one where the Crusaders just managed to scrap home, even if they just couldn't manage to score a forth try).
Well now its time to give them a friendly Canterbury welcome, and remove a couple of well deserved wins with bonus points from them!
8th Apr - Bulls in Pretoria 14th Apr - Stormers in Cape Town Great... a trip to South Africa! That will be fun!
This is the part of the season that I just hope the team plays well. Both are afternoon games, the first at 5 am NZ body clock time! A win... a hard fought loss with a bonus point or two... what-ever!
22nd Apr - Cats in Nelson Great to be back home, and time to see what kind of guts the Cats have this year! Figuratively of course, I'm as queasy as the next Canterbury rugby fan!
28th Apr - Sharks in Christchurch Don't know what the Sharks will do this year, but this is the last home game of the regular season! So expect some filleting!
5th May - Waratahs in Sydney 9:45 pm NZ body clock time! Who knows what to expect from the Whatalaughs this year? I expect the result of this game to help decide quarter final positions!
12th May - Highlanders in Dunedin What a nice friendly way to round out the season. Traditionally I would expect this to be an exciting game that has a real impact on the table, but after last year who knows?
Well there it is. Just enough well placed home games to keep the excitement and the desire going for team and fans. More importantly this draw doesn't throw any additional obstacles in the way of the Crusaders
Four-peat is a major pshyc-out, you can't start worrying about that until you are in the finals.
Taken a few games at a time, this draw throws enough extra challenges to keep the team inspired.
I'm really looking forward to inspired Crusaders rugby!