The Crusaders host the Hurricanes in Saturday's Super Rugby semifinals. It's the fourth time the Hurricanes have made the trip to Christchurch for a playoff game - the previous three have ended in defeats.

The 2006 final when they lost 19-12 is probably the most famous - or infamous if you are a Hurricanes' fans. Largely remembered for the strange weather conditions.

Low-lying fog meant TV viewers and people at the old Lancaster Park were unable to see much of the contest.

There was talk that the game could have been postponed but it went ahead and is now remembered as the 'Fog Final'.


In 2015, Daniel Richardson, Kris Shannon and Patrick McKendry caught up with some of the people who were involved.

The background:

The Crusaders topped the Super Rugby standings with only one loss during the season and beat the Bulls in the semifinals to earn home advantage for the decider.

The Hurricanes, led by an entertaining backline and a dynamic loose trio, qualified second and edged the Waratahs in the semifinals to book their first appearance in the final.

Despite the weather forecast suggesting clouds and some rain, the conditions ended up being the lasting memory of the match.

The weather blanketing Lancaster Park was the main talking point of the match. Photo / Getty
The weather blanketing Lancaster Park was the main talking point of the match. Photo / Getty


Jason Pine



Wellington Newstalk ZB sports radio host


We did a competition, a ZB breakfast competition, to get two punters down to Christchurch and the winner was a bloke who drove a cab in Wellington - he still does - and his wife, lovely people, huge Hurricanes fans. So we went down there, I hosted them, we flew in on the night of the game and it was about five o'clock and I remember listening to the news bulletin at five o'clock and the weather forecast came on: "Beautiful night for the game, it's going to be fantastic".

Grant Nisbett (Sky Sport commentator)
We normally get there a couple of hours beforehand and it was a lovely night. It was a nice, clear night and then it just started to roll in a wee bit and I think a lot of people thought it might have been somebody burning rubbish or something. Initially I thought it was smoke but as it turned out, it was fog and it didn't really descend on to the ground until about an hour before kick-off. So we were all sitting around on the sideline watching this come in and that was it, the dye was cast.

Richie McCaw (Crusaders flanker)
We left on a bus from Papanui Road and it was a beautifully clear night. It wasn't until we came down Fitzgerald Ave that we saw all the fog. I didn't think much of it until we got off the bus and looked down the tunnel out on to the field and you just couldn't see. I thought that's weird, the lights will come on and surely things will improve.

We got to the game and just as we arrived, that's when the fog started to roll in and we got up in to our seats, which were in the main stand, and we couldn't see a thing. All you could see was a blanket of fog. It was just really surreal.

Colin Cooper (Hurricanes coach, 2003-2010)
We passed the stage where they talked about cancelling it and it looked like it was clearing and we carried on and decided to play it and it got worse.

Then there were all these rumours going around that they were going to get some helicopters in to blow the fog away. That wasn't going to happen, was it.

High balls were a constant challenge in the conditions. Photo / Getty
High balls were a constant challenge in the conditions. Photo / Getty

The match:

A try to Crusaders midfielder Casey Laulala in the 62nd minute, and a conversion from Dan Carter, proved the difference as both sides kicked four penalty goals.

I was with Murray Mexted and we were stuck up high in the grandstand so our vision was just hopeless, to be honest. We had Tony Johnson [on the] sideline and it wasn't very long before we decided probably the best bet would be for him to go round the other side and he could do a bit of a radio commentary from the other side so it was a team effort, really. It was quite bizarre. There was times when we simply just could not see anything. It was the most bizarre game I've ever done in my life.

Nobody could prove whether we were right or wrong because obviously the picture we were seeing was exactly what was being transmitted back at home to people sitting their lounge rooms. So we just had to give it our best shot really.

But having another set of eyes on the other side of the field and, often we couldn't see, was quite good. It seemed to work reasonably well; I think we got the message across.

Brian Ashby (Radio Sport sideline commentator)
We found a way of dealing with it and we certainly had one of our most memorable commentaries of coming up with lines.

Ross Filipo (Crusaders lock, 2004-2009)
It's been the only game I've played where it's been that thick. I've played when it's been foggy or misty or whatever, but never to that extent.

It was pretty testing because both teams started putting up a lot of high balls. Occasionally, you'd lose it and it would take you a couple of seconds to figure out where the ball was. But when you take into consideration the thickness of the fog, I think the players in the backfield did remarkably well to be fairly accurate around taking those high balls.

The lineouts weren't a real issue - you were close enough that you could see everything that was going on. The people who had the real issue were the ones who were sitting up high, because it just blanketed the ground and no one could really see underneath it.

There were a couple of funny moments, like sometimes kicks were put forward and guys who were offside would run up and make the tackle, but the ref couldn't see it. You could get away with a bit because the touchies couldn't see you from the other side.

It was a shocker. We couldn't sit up in the coaches box so we came down on the field but we could only see halfway across the field.

Everyone was amusing themselves by making paper darts and stuff. We were just sitting there because nobody really wanted to go but it was like watching a stage show with a curtain down.

To be honest, it was a pretty awful game so it wasn't much to remember in that regard. But talking to people - I know my folks were sitting high up in the stand and they never saw a thing. We didn't realise that, really, at the time. It was foggy and you couldn't really see the goalposts, but we just sort of got on with it. It wasn't until afterwards that you realised that no one really saw anything.

Richie McCaw led the Crusaders to victory in challenging conditions. Photo / Getty
Richie McCaw led the Crusaders to victory in challenging conditions. Photo / Getty

After the game:

There were cries from some fans that the game should have been called off but the relevant stakeholders decided to proceed.

Hamish Riach (Crusaders chief executive, quoted in South African newspaper Business Day in 2006)
In the end it was a relatively comfortable decision in that nobody was saying it should be called off.

It may not have had to get too much worse [to be called off] but the collective view was that the game should proceed.

It's a haunting sort of memory. We had an opportunity to win the game. We didn't have the depth of the Crusaders in the forwards but we had a backline that could compete and we just really needed quick ball and we got dominated in the forwards so we weren't able to spark our backs.

Rodney So'oialo (Hurricanes No 8, 2001-2011, speaking after the game)
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.

Both teams obviously would have gone in with very clear gameplans and how they would have gone about their business and to that end they probably had to adjust to it and it probably came down to the side that adjusted more effectively.

It wasn't the rugby that you took away from it as being any great memory because it wasn't a great game. Maybe those conditions detracted from that. Finals tend not to be terribly open, expansive games most of the time.

Riach (quoted by ABC Radio after the game)
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

The funny thing was, straight after the game the fog basically lifted. It rolled in for the duration of the match and then, I remember having a shower and walking out afterwards, it was like a crystal clear night. It was really bizarre.

I felt really sorry for these people because they'd won this trip, we'd paid for them to go down there and stuff and they were huge Hurricanes fans. I still see him around actually and we joke about it. It was utterly bizarre.