by Chris Tobin
Temuka Transport has negotiated a sponsorship deal with both the Crusaders and the Highlanders, which it says will benefit South Canterbury.
“There will be opportunities to bring players and people down here and hopefully there will be interaction with coaches and players as well,” Temuka Transport Group spokesman Nigel Walsh said.
A three-year deal was signed after Highlanders commercial manager Mike Kerr approached the group.
Discussion then moved to entering a joint arrangement with the Crusaders franchise as well.
The company operates in both franchise areas extensively, as well as throughout the South Island.
Mr Walsh would not discuss how much the sponsorship was for.
“It’s a full sponsorship with quite a lot involved.”
Temuka Transport Group general manager Garry Aitken said it was a family business with divided loyalties between the Crusaders and Highlanders.
“This is a really exciting step for our business and staff because what organisations are more iconic in this part of the world than the Crusaders and Highlanders?”
To celebrate the deal, some young Temuka rugby players were given the chance of a lifetime last Friday evening.
They got to play at Orangetheory Stadium before the Crusaders took on the Highlanders in a derby clash.
A group of 7 and 8-year-old players from the club travelled to Christchurch for the big game.
“It was great; the kids were over the moon. Half were put into Highlanders jerseys and the other half in Crusaders jerseys and they had a game, 10 to 15 minutes each way,” Temuka Rugby Club junior advisory board member Mark Smith said.
A group of parents and supporters travelled to Christchurch with them by bus.
“They formed a guard of honour for the two teams as they went on the field and I believe they got to meet a few players.”
The guard of honour included past Crusaders players who were attending a 25th anniversary reunion of the franchise.
Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said the team was “thrilled to welcome a locally-owned business like Temuka Transport to our Crusaders family”.
“We value the exceptional ties the Aitken family and their staff have to communities throughout the South Island, and their passion for rugby as a means of bringing those communities together.”
Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said the southern team was also delighted with the sponsorship deal.