Crusaders boss 'disappointed' damaged trophy has tarnished Super Rugby Aotearoa triumph

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge has expressed his disappointment after his team managed to damage the one-of-a-kind trophy they received for winning Super Rugby Aotearoa.

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Colin Mansbridge said his team haven't acted as guardians of Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa like they should have.

After their impressive comeback win over the Highlanders last week, the Crusaders were awarded Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa for winning the New Zealand competition with a week to spare.

However the trophy, created by Otaki carver Bill Doyle which symbolises the coming together of the five Kiwi Super Rugby franchises during the Covid-19 pandemic, has since been damaged with pictures obtained by 1 NEWS showed chips and dents in the wooden base.

The pounamu mere on top of the trophy was also missing in the photos obtained but it has since been located.

Mansbridge told media today the organisation was doing some self-reflection.

"The management, the board, the wider organisation, fans and sponsors are incredibly proud of winning the trophy," he said.

"By winning Super Rugby Aotearoa, we become kaitiaki [guardians] of the trophy and it's a trophy that has significance more broadly than just the club.

"We haven't fulfilled our obligations as kaitiaki as full as what we should so we're in a process around how we deal with that."

Mansbridge said the process would teach the franchise about "how they conduct themselves".

"We're unhappy with what's happened with the trophy and we're going to use it."

When asked if there was a growing issue with the club's culture with the damaged trophy the latest in a string of off-field incidents, Mansbridge said the club was going through a "restorative process".

"I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed about what's happened to the trophy but I'm not making any links to anything else. 

"It could be as simple as being clumsy or it could be disrespectful and I just want to get my head around that."