Blackadder confirmed as Crusaders coach
July 23, 2008

The baton has been passed from one franchise legend to another with Todd Blackadder's appointment to coach the Super 14 rugby champion Crusaders.

The former All Blacks captain succeeds Robbie Deans, who led the Crusaders to the fifth Super title under his stewardship this year before crossing the Tasman to take charge of the Wallabies.

Blackadder, 36, has been appointed for three years, with Mark Hammett and Daryl Gibson as his assistants.

All three were founding members of the Crusaders in 1996, all three played for the All Blacks and all three are in their 30s and still cutting their teeth in the coaching ranks.

Blackadder said he was not intimidated by the legacy of success that Deans helped create at the Crusaders, who have won seven of the 13 Super titles contested since 1996.

"I know he created a real legacy but I see it as an opportunity for us to get in there, build on the legacy of the past and take it forward," said Blackadder, who served a term as the Crusaders technical advisor this year.

"There is a real culture and history of success here so we do have to make sure we get all our ducks in a row to put a team together with the right culture and leadership so that we can perform.

"There will be absolutely no lack of trying, no lack of effort; we will do everything we possibly can to maintain the team's proud record and build on the past."

There is no question Blackadder and his assistants will be under intense pressure to extend the franchise's extraordinary record of success.

That was clearly illustrated on the back page of The Press newspaper in Christchurch today which pre-empted his appointment with a headline stretching the width of its main sports page: "Hail, LORD Blackadder".

Blackadder may well have cringed over his breakfast cornflakes when opening his morning newspaper but he publicly welcomes those expectations.

"We will set our own agenda with our own expectations and we will go out there to do our very best. That's all you can ask."

The former Crusaders skipper, who began his coaching career in Britain, including a term as Scotland's assistant coach, said he felt deeply honoured when he learned his application for the job had been accepted.

"It still really hasn't sunk in. It was such an honour and a privilege to be a player (for Crusaders) and after all these years to come back and coach the Crusaders is an honour.

"I'm just absolutely excited and delighted to be part of the Crusaders once again, but in a different role," said Blackadder, whose playing career for the franchise ended in 2001.

He is delighted with the coaching team around him at the Crusaders.

Hammett, who was Deans' assistant this year and sought the top job, will coach the forwards while Gibson returns from a playing and coaching stint in the Britain to oversee the backs.

Blackadder admitted the coaching team as a unit were young in years.

"I'd like to think there's some old heads on young shoulders.

"The first person I wanted to be involved in this coaching team was Mark Hammett; he's a good forwards coach and is very technically sound."

Blackadder's appointment throws in doubt his future role with Tasman, who he is coaching in the Air NZ Cup this season.

He said his continuing role with Tasman was unresolved at this stage.

"There is going to be a transition but we have yet to discuss that.

"As far as I know I will continue to coach Tasman through to the end of the season but we have yet to have those discussions."

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