Blackadder an early contender for Munster's Director of Rugby role

The former All Blacks lock has spent the past seven seasons in charge of the Crusaders.

CURRENT CRUSADERS HEAD coach Todd Blackadder has emerged as an early contender for the role of Director of Rugby at Munster.

The42 understands that Blackadder is part of the southern province’s initial list of potential targets to fill the newly-created role next season.

Todd Blackadder Blackadder has been in charge of the Crusaders since 2009. Source: Photosport/Marty Melville/INPHO

The former All Blacks lock will end an eight-year tenure in charge of the Crusaders at the completion of the upcoming 2016 Super Rugby season.

Blackadder took over at the Canterbury-based franchise in 2009 after coaching spells with Scotland, Edinburgh and Tasman, and has helped them into four Super Rugby semi-finals and two finals, both of which ended in devastating defeat.

The 44-year-old announced last November that the current season would be his final one with the Crusaders, stating:

“This will be my eighth season coaching the Crusaders, and every minute in the role has been a privilege. But moving on at the end of the 2016 season is the right thing for me and the right thing for the team

I have been so fortunate to be able to do my dream job for all of these years, but eight years is a relatively long time in coaching and I feel that the time is right for someone else to take the reins and lead the team in their own direction in the future.”

As such, Blackadder will be available from late 2016 or early 2017 and his Super Rugby experience makes him an attractive possibility for Munster as they seek out a Director of Rugby for the first time.

Intriguingly, Blackadder’s philosophy on the game is similar to that of former Munster head coach Rob Penney.

Like Blackadder, Penney is an ex-Canterbury player. Penney – now working in Japan – was an assistant coach for the Crusaders when they won their 2005 Super Rugby title. He subsequently took charge of the franchise’s Development Squad.

Rob Blackadder 16/4/2005 Blackadder in action for Edinburgh against Munster in 2005. Source: INPHO

Penney’s stint as head coach of the Canterbury provincial side in the ITM Cup overlapped with Blackadder’s stewardship of the Crusaders from 2009 until 2012, and the playing styles of both teams during that time had striking similarities.

Penney’s attempts to bring a wide-wide style of rugby to Munster when appointed in 2012 were a vast shift in direction for the province, but the Kiwi led them to consecutive Heineken Cup semi-finals.

Though Penney’s attempts to broaden Munster’s attacking palate were derided in some quarters, his departure remains a sore point in others. He was offered a one-year extension at the conclusion of his initial two-year deal at Munster, but fielded a longer-term offer from NTT Shining Arcs in Japan’s Top League.

Penney expressed his “disappointment” at having to leave Munster to ensure greater job security in 2014, with Anthony Foley taking over as head coach.

After a Guinness Pro12 final appearance in Foley’s first season in charge, the province has struggled during the current campaign and currently find themselves seventh in the league, having exited Europe at the pool stages.

Munster’s response has been to initiate the search for an experienced figure to come on board as Director of Rugby alongside Foley next season, with Blackadder very much fitting the bill.

Should an approach be made to the Kiwi, it would he fascinating to see how the Canterbury philosophy of rugby would work in Munster at the second time of asking.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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