Tasman Coach Todd Blackadder has been appointed Head Coach of the Crusaders for three years, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and Crusaders Franchise have announced.
Supporting Blackadder as assistant coaches will be two of his fellow Crusaders’ and All Blacks’ team mates – Mark Hammett and Daryl Gibson.
36-year-old Blackadder was appointed coach of the Tasman Air New Zealand Cup side in 2007 and has been the province’s director of rugby since 2006. His coaching career began in Scotland where, after a playing stint, he was appointed assistant coach of the national side in 2003-2004 and was head coach of Edinburgh in 2004-2005. He returned home to New Zealand to join Tasman and in 2007 he took up the role of Crusaders technical advisor.
Blackadder was a foundation member of the Crusaders, having played for and captained the team from 1996 to 2001. He led the team to three Rebel Sport Super Rugby titles during his six-year tenure with the region. He also captained Canterbury, and in 1997 led the province to its first Air New Zealand NPC success in 14 years. He captained the red and blacks to another NPC title in 2001. At national level, Blackadder made 25 appearances for the All Blacks, including 12 Tests, 10 as captain. In total, he captained the All Blacks in 14 games.
Blackadder said it was a huge privilege to take charge of the Crusaders.
“I have a passionate desire to keep the Crusaders at the pinnacle of world rugby, to build on the legacy of the past, and to freshen, stimulate and lead the organisation into the future,” he said.
“Most importantly, I’m delighted that we have been able to put a really strong coaching team together and I look forward to working with Mark, Daryl and the rest of the team in the coming months.”
Current Crusaders Assistant Coach Mark Hammett will resume the role he has held since 2007, with responsibility for the forwards. Hammett was also a former Crusader and played for the team from 1996 to 2003. He was an All Black from 1999 to 2003, appearing in 30 matches, including 29 Tests. Hammett was a technical coach with the Canterbury provincial team from 2005-2008 and was appointed a technical advisor to the Crusaders in 2006.
Daryl Gibson will make his return to Christchurch as Assistant Coach, with responsibility for the backs. Gibson is currently coaching in Scotland, where he has been a player/coach with the Glasgow Warriors. Gibson represented the Crusaders in 78 games from 1996 to 2002. He also played 19 Test matches for the All Blacks between 1999 and 2002. Gibson played for Bristol in the English Premiership in 2002-2003 before joining the Leicester Tigers from 2003-2007.
NZRU General Manager of Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said the appointment of three former Crusaders players to coaching roles for the Franchise was an example of the success generated within the region.
“The Crusaders have a tradition of developing outstanding rugby talent and that includes growing excellent coaches. The appointment of Todd, Mark and Daryl to these roles is an example of the culture that the Crusaders environment creates and of their personal commitment to the game and to their region.”
Crusaders Chairman Murray Ellis said that his Board was delighted that the three had accepted the positions. All were outstanding candidates in a very strong field of applicants and they brought a range of skills and experience to the Crusaders.
“The franchise has a history of employing the best people available and we are also extremely careful to protect the special culture and values that are ingrained in the organisation. All three coaching candidates meet these strict criteria.”