SRNZPA: Inventory manager Nick Ungar, 38, is largely to blame for the Crusaders’ exit from the Super 14 at the semi final stage according to staff at Christchurch’s Star Paper Ltd. The Crusaders have long counted on their phenomenal fans, and Ungar’s less than wholehearted support is being seen in a decisive factor in the loss to the Bulls in Pretoria.
Star’s accounts receivable supervisor Dave Goodman held an inpromtu post mortem around the photocopier and concluded Ungar’s lack of commitment has cost the franchise a record seventh title. “What’s the first thing Richie or Robbie says when they win? Yip, ‘I’d like to thank the fans’. There’s no way we can win otherwise. No way”. Goodman went on to explain that he wasn’t crying, he just had something in his eye.
Incidents that seemed merely strange at the time are now being viewed as turning points in the season, like Ungar’s Monday morning enquiry of the score between the Crusaders and the Bulls in the round robin. He also asked “Who’s Chris Jack ?” when the legendary lock’s knee injury was featured on pages 1, 2, 3, 9, and 23 of the Christchurch Press.
“I knew he wasn’t right at on ‘Wear your jersey to work. A Crusaders jersey.’ day” said social club organiser Gareth Buck. “He came in some kind of Squash club tracksuit top – it was red and black alright, but the sleeves were green. I had him on about it and he kind of went ‘oh, really?’ and kept on checking his email. I’m not surprised we lost. Not fucking surprised at all”.
The final straw came when Ungar failed to join a team outing to Jade Stadium for the Chiefs match, instead preferring to celebrate his fifth wedding anniversary by taking his wife to dinner. That decision was to cost the Crusaders the advantage of a home semi final and ultimately the title. “What a girl” said Goodman, adding “If he doesn’t get on board at World Cup time and we lose, he’s dead meat”.
The Crusaders organisation have made it clear they take a dim view. “Other teams shit themselves when they play us as they know the whole Canterbury public are behind the boys. The WHOLE public, not just those that can be bothered” said a Crusaders spokesman. “If Ungar doesn’t wake the fuck up we’ll be forced to review Star Paper Ltd’s supply of posters, mini-rugby balls and inflatable swords”. Former players Justin Marshall and Andrew Merthens released a joint statement warning the franchise’s catchment area that behaviour like Ungar’s is directly responsible for senior players seeking playing opportunites overseas.