Crusaders 19
Hurricanes 12

Infra-red night vision goggles might have helped and it would have been useful if the Crusaders and Hurricanes had been kitted out in fluoro gear.

A rattle in the ball might have assisted Lome Fa'atau, who ran around in circles searching for one of the incessant up-and-unders.

The Super 14 decider will go down in rugby legend as the final no one saw, a game made memorable by the bizarre foggy conditions.


As central Christchurch emptied out on Saturday night to head for Jade Stadium, there was no hint of the chaos that was to follow.

But on the 3km journey to the ground, conditions worsened dramatically.

From the press box, we sat and watched the mist, willing it to disappear.

Seasoned local newspaperman Bob Schumacher had seen many similar situations in Christchurch but the fog had never settled with such obstinate resistance.

From our vantage point opposite the main grandstand, we tried to watch the match, look at the big screen, use binoculars or get a read from the television monitor.

All methods were unproductive and for once the fourth estate had a plausible defence for any unreliable copy.

Those who went to the game will never forget the outrageous conditions.

The match joins in the hall of infamy the All Blacks' waterpolo test against Scotland at Eden Park in 1975, or their games against France in 1961 at Wellington or Llanelli in 1989 in galeforce winds.

A year later at New Plymouth, the mud was so enveloping that Ewen McKenzie tackled one of his Wallaby teammates during their tour match.

Former All Black captain Ian Kirkpatrick shook his head on Saturday as he lamented the meteorological fates which had destroyed what should have been a cracking spectacle.

He had played in worse, on the All Blacks tour 1972 tour to Britain when Cardiff had been blanketed by an impenetrable haze.

Crusaders midfielder Aaron Mauger heard there had been similar conditions two nights before but the fog usually settled on the other side of the city. It had been a weird match.

"We chased kicks and tried to help out. It was a good fitness session, a bit like ping-pong but I think we earned a few beers," he said.

As the 35,000 crowd returned to the city's bars to renew their association with the local beverages and to dissect the final, the conversations were as blurred as the conditions.

No one was quite sure what they had seen, debate was scratchy, the focus was all on the weather.

It was just as surreal yesterday, returning to Jade Stadium for the All Black announcement. Where fog had shrouded the ground, the sun blazed down on the turf as children gambolled.

Some order seemed to be coming back into our world until the national selectors unveiled their misty messages and extensive lists for the All Blacks, Junior All Blacks and Maori sides.