Travelling pains for Crusaders
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Crusaders’ journey to South Africa could put the New Zealanders on the backfoot when their take to the field come Saturday.
After their 27-13 semi-final win over the Chiefs in Christchurch at the weekend, the Crusaders travelled more than 13 000 kilometres and 16 hours for the final against the Lions.
According to Stuff, Crusaders' heavy Super Rugby schedule ahead of the final is a huge disadvantage compared to the Lions’ campaigns.
The Lions secured a final spot without playing any New Zealand franchise in the round-robin and have the privilege of three play-off matches at home in Johannesburg.
"Evidence does suggest if you are significantly jet lagged your performance will drop," New Zealand Rugby medical chief Ian Murphy told stuff.co.nz
"It's around precision activities as well. It's how coordinated you are and how good your reaction times are and that sort of thing.
"There is a reason home advantage is exactly that. Home advantage and the issues the travelling team face around jet-lag and time zones and the fact they're travelling long distances. Between all that [The Lions] have got an advantage before you start," he added.
The Crusaders left Christchurch on Sunday and will have a week to prepare in Johannesburg.
Murphy said the effects of jet lag can be mitigated, but can never fully be overcome in a short turnaround of one week.
Super Rugby history shows travel for playoffs can kill the momentum of a winning side.
In 2011 the Crusaders travelled more than 110 000km during the season and 31 937km for the finals alone only to lose to the Reds in Brisbane.
The 2013 Brumbies covered 25 056km during the finals but were outgunned in the second half of the decider against the Chiefs.
The Chiefs of 2009 trekked to Pretoria for a final against the Bulls and were beaten 61-17.