Carter determined to lift Christchurch
March 22, 2011
The Crusaders observe a minute's silence prior to their clash with the Waratahs © Getty Images
Crusaders fly-half Dan Carter hopes that their Super Rugby clash against the Sharks at Twickenham will allow them to play their remaining games in front of their home fans, who are still reeling from the effects of the recent Christchurch earthquake.
Sunday's tie at the home of English rugby has been organised in an effort to raise funds for the relief effort and also to provide a financial boost for the franchise, whose AMI Stadium home was put out of action by the 6.3 magnitude tremor.
Carter wants to see top-class rugby boost the region and their Twickenham date could make staging their remaining games in Nelson or Timaru a reality. Christchurch has also lost its hosting rights for the Rugby World Cup due to the damage, adding to the playmaker's determination.
"This is a time when it is important we play our home games in front of our own people," he told The Daily Telegraph. "Especially now the World Cup won't be coming to Christchurch. Cantabrians are rugby fanatics and for us not to have any World Cup games is just more depressing news for the people here. Obviously, it's been done for the right safety reasons but it's really sad.
"Our game against the Waratahs had to be moved to Nelson and it was a very emotional occasion. There was a minute's silence before the boys went out and played a great game.
"I felt it made a difference. Maybe only a small difference but people had something to cheer. And, honestly, I feel the best thing we can do, that we have to do, is to put the smile back on the faces of the people of Christchurch by going out there and playing good rugby."
Carter was at the Crusaders' Rugby Park base when the quake struck, and he admitted that the events would stay with him.
"I was going to take a shower when, suddenly, there was violent shaking and we just had to get out there as fast as we could," he said. "You don't have time to think but as we tried to get out of the grandstand, it was being shaken from wall to wall, throwing us from side to side and our hands and elbows got grazed.
"It was only when I jumped into the car that I realised the extent of the devastation. It's something I'll never forget; the shock on people's faces, all the traffic lights out, water gushing out in the streets, cracks in the road, traffic jams."
His fiancée, former New Zealand hockey representative Honor Dillon, lost a friend to the disaster while Crusaders board member Philip McDonald was also killed. In the immediate aftermath, Carter travelled to comfort Dillon, also pitching in with the clean-up in his neighbourhood.
"As All Blacks, we are kind of held on a pedestal here in a nation of rugby fanatics," he said. "So you've got to make sure people know that you're just like everybody else, you're just human, going through the same emotional roller-coaster. Just because you're an All Black doesn't mean you're not going to get your hands dirty to help out when needed.
"Actually, it was really rewarding. I didn't know my neighbours that well, now I do because we've been working so closely together on a big clean-up."
With ticket sales steadily increasing, the middle tier of the stadium has now been opened and extra tickets went on sale on Monday. If tickets continue as trending there is a chance that Twickenham could play host to the biggest ever Super Rugby crowd, the record currently stands at 54,000.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter