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English Premiership Rugby club Bath have confirmed that Crusaders coaches Todd Blackadder and Tabai Matson have signed with the club.
Blackadder will become the Director of Rugby and Matson has been contracted as Head Coach.
Blackadder has been Head Coach of the Crusaders for the last eight years, and Matson has been in the Assistant Coach role since 2013. Matson has also been the Attack Coach for the Fiji national team, Assistant Coach for the Maori All Blacks and Canterbury Head Coach in 2012. Blackadder was the Director of Rugby for Tasman before coaching the Crusaders, and also has international experience as assistant coach for Edinburgh
Blackadder said he is looking forward to the next chapter in his coaching career: “I am excited about the new challenge ahead and to be joining another club with a proud history. I have been honoured to coach the Crusaders for the last eight years and it is tough to leave a team that I am so passionate about, but I know that the timing is right for both the team and for me and I will continue to be the Crusaders’ biggest fan from afar.
“It is particularly exciting to be embarking on this new challenge with my good friend and fellow coach Tabai. It will be a great advantage to have a coach there who I already know so well, and I know that Tabai is a fantastic acquisition for Bath Rugby,” Blackadder said.
“I’m really looking forward to joining Bath – they are an ambitious club, with some very talented players. They play attacking rugby, and have a clear vision of where they want to be. Tabai and I are really excited to be part of that and to develop it further over the coming seasons.”
Matson added: “Both Todd and I are eagerly anticipating joining Bath, and linking up with Toby, Darren and Stuart as well as the squad and wider team. There is a lot of knowledge in the team and a great squad of players. I can’t wait to link up with them and get started.”
Matson, in confirming he would not be a part of the 2017 Crusaders coaching team, said he was ready for a fresh start with Bath Rugby: “It is never an easy decision to move away from a team you have invested a lot in, but having made that decision I am now excited about what lies ahead. It will be awesome to be involved in the European club competitions and to gain some more international experience with a proud team like Bath. It is very rare to move clubs and get the chance to continue to work with a coach who you trust and respect, so I feel lucky to be making this step with Todd,” Matson said
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach paid tribute to the two coaches who have given so much to the organisation.
“We are losing two incredibly good men in Todd and Tabai, and they will be sorely missed around here for the huge contribution they each make to the Crusaders culture. We respect and understand their decisions to move on at this time and we wish them only the best for the future. They have each done an enormous amount to help shape this organisation over the last number of years, are very fine coaches and all-round good men, and have been completely committed to the Crusader values in everything they have done. On behalf of everyone at the Crusaders, I want to thank Todd and Tabai for their immense contributions,” Mr Riach said.
Blackadder and Matson will commence their contracts with Bath Rugby next month. Blackadder has signed for a 3 year team and Matson for 4 years.
A former All Black captain has taken the Crusaders to four Super Rugby semi-finals and two finals. They have played some of the most attractive rugby in the competition under his stewardship, making the play-offs in all but one season.
One of the most highly regarded coaches in world rugby; Blackadder brings a wealth of experience to the role – having coached in Scotland and Tasman before taking up the Head Coach role at the Crusaders – together with a strong track record in the development of talented players and coaches.
Matson has been central to the development of the Crusaders’ attacking style, and joins Bath having served as Blackadder’s assistant coach since 2013. A specialist attack and backs coach, Fijian Matson led Canterbury to their fifth consecutive ITM Cup as Head Coach in 2012. Since May 2015 he has been attack coach for the Fiji national side, including at last year’s Rugby World Cup.
Blackadder and Matson, who will arrive in the next few weeks following the end of the 2016 Super Rugby campaign, will be supported by the current First Team Coaches – Toby Booth and Darren Edwards – together with Stuart Hooper, with the trio continuing to run pre-season training in the meantime.
“We are delighted that Todd and Tabai will be joining the Club,” said Tarquin McDonald, Managing Director of Bath Rugby. “They bring a wealth of experience and provide a great fit for the club in terms of what we want to achieve on the pitch, the way we want to play, and our desire to develop home grown talent.
“They are both excited about the opportunity to help shape the Club’s future, and they will work very well alongside our current First Team Coaches, Toby Booth and Darren Edwards, and Stuart Hooper.”
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