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Super Rugby champs Crusaders to play Munster, Bristol in 2024

The Crusaders celebrate after winning the Super Rugby Pacific trophy. File photo

The Canterbury Crusaders will play Munster and the Bristol Bears on a European tour next February, the newly-crowned Super Rugby Pacific champions announced on Thursday.

It will be the first time the Crusaders have played in Europe since facing the Durban-based Sharks at Twickenham in 2011, the New Zealand franchise said.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge hinted the tour games could test the waters for a possible future global club competition.

“New Zealand and Australian clubs have been working on the World Club Competition for years, so when an opportunity for Super teams to play Northern Hemisphere counterparts came up, it was just too good to pass up,” Mansbridge added.

The New Zealand team will play Irish side Munster, the current United Rugby Championship title holders, on February 3, before facing the Bears in Bristol six days later.

The Crusaders will play the tour games under new head coach Rob Penney, replacing Scott Robertson, who takes charge of the All Blacks in 2024.

The Christchurch-based team won the Super Rugby Pacific final with a hard-fought 25-20 win at the Waikato Chiefs last Saturday to earn a seventh consecutive title under Robertson.

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