All the action the Blues hosted the Crusaders in their Super Rugby opener at Eden Park.

In the long minutes before kick-off tonight, Blues head coach Leon MacDonald and his Crusaders counterpart Scott Robertson will meet on the Eden Park pitch.

They will shake hands and make a bit of small talk and then they'll wish each other all the best and return to watching their teams prepare to do battle in an opening match which will help set the tone for their respective seasons.

It's what professional rugby coaches do and as good men and good coaches it's difficult to see them deviating from the tradition, but there is no doubt that there will be extra motivation for both. MacDonald was Robertson's assistant as the Crusaders stormed to the Super Rugby title in 2017 before he left Christchurch, to spend more time with his family in Blenheim, and then signed with the Blues less than a year later.


To say eyebrows were raised at the Crusaders' Rugby Park headquarters after MacDonald signed to be Tana Umaga's assistant would be a big understatement but things change quickly in professional sport, and it's clear MacDonald saw a quicker pathway to a head coaching role in Auckland.

Indeed, that was borne out months later when the new Blues board effectively demoted Umaga and installed MacDonald as head coach.

Now, in a brilliant piece of scheduling, they face each other in their opening match of the season. Is it personal? Probably not. Is there extra motivation for victory? Probably. Are they similar personalities? Absolutely not, but they are cut from the same coaching cloth.

"We haven't talked at all actually," MacDonald said after his team's final significant training run of the week, when asked if any texts had been sent to the man known as "Razor". "We've both been pretty busy and it's been a pretty hectic pre-season with a lot going on. I'm sure we'll touch base before kick-off."