Crusaders preparing to welcome back fans for their first Super Rugby Aotearoa match in Christchurch

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge is optimistic fans will be in attendance for the Crusaders’ first home game of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

The New Zealand competition kicks off on June 13 following the country’s recent move to alert Level 2, with games initially set to go ahead without fans, however, due to crowd limitations and restrictions still in place.

Earlier this week, the Government said they will evaluate moving the country into alert Level 1 on June 22, giving franchises hope of welcoming fans back to live games.

With the Crusaders not playing at home until round three – on June 28 – Mansbridge told NZME things look promising to have his side run out in front of their home supporters.

“We definitely started thinking about crowds over the last few days but it’s fair to say, prior to that we had no planning, it was planning simply without crowds basis,” Mansbridge said.

“We’re starting to get the sense that if this trend continues, we could be in Level 1 and current Level 1 restrictions don’t limit crowds.

“If it’s as optimistic as what we’re feeling in the community now and the messages that are coming from Government, then we need to be prepared for business as usual.”

Mansbridge believed most franchises already had the infrastructure in place to allow crowds to return safely, and also had plans in place to welcome back fans.

But he said fans should expect a few changes to ticket purchasing.

“If you’re going to sell a ticket to somebody you’ll want to collect their name, address and phone number and email address. You’ll probably want to collect that information for all of the seats that are allocated rather than one person purchasing a block of ten tickets for them and five mates or ten mates, you might amend your system to collect all the information for all of the people,” he said.

“Then you’ve got ways of managing crowds inside the stadium so that it’s a little bit less than a free for all that you’ll normally have.”