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Bath look to new chapter with signing of Blackadder as director of rugby

The Kiwi arrives after eight seasons in charge of the Crusaders.

BATH HAVE CONFIRMED the appointment of Todd Blackadder as their new director of rugby, with his fellow New Zealander Tabai Matson taking over as head coach of the English club.

Blackadder and Matson both arrive from Super Rugby franchise the Crusaders.

Todd Blackadder Blackadder was looking for a new challenge. Source: Photosport/Dianne Manson/INPHO

Bath have been on the search for a new boss since Mike Ford left the club in May after a deeply disappointing season that saw the Somerset side finish ninth in the Premiership and exit the Champions Cup at the pool stage.

With a re-jigged coaching structure creating the position of director of rugby, Blackadder arrives after eight years in charge of the Crusaders, during which time they reached four semi-finals and two finals in Super Rugby.

While Blackadder, a former All Black, consistently had the Crusaders playing attractive attacking rugby, he did face intermittent criticism from some quarters in New Zealand on account of the failure to secure a Super Rugby title.

Matson, an ex-Fiji international, joined the Crusaders as an assistant to Blackadder in 2013, having guided Canterbury to ITM Cup success the year before.

Bath have played plenty of exciting rugby in recent seasons under the now-departed Ford, and Blackadder indicated that was one of his reasons for taking up the English club’s offer.

“I’m really looking forward to joining Bath – they are an ambitious club, with some very talented players,” said the Kiwi.

“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.”

Bath’s George Ford George Ford is a key figure at Bath. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Tarquin McDonald, the managing director of Bath, welcomed the new coaches:

“We are delighted that Todd and Tabai will be joining the club. 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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Meanwhile, Blackadder’s former employers, the Crusaders, have made a player signing as they look to compensate for the loss of Nemani Nadolo to Montpellier this summer, with former Wallabies star Digby Ioane joining on a two-year deal.

31-year-old Ioane left Australian rugby in 2013 for two seasons with Stade Français, before a spell with Japanese side Honda Heat.

The Crusaders have also lost Kieran Fonotia, Andy Ellis, Johnny McNicholl, Jimmy Tupou and Alex Hodgman ahead of the 2017 Super Rugby season, with Ioane and Bryn Hall their only confirmed signings at this point.

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Murray Kinsella

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