allblacks.com 15.May.2012Getty Images
Matson has already been working with the Canterbury team as assistant coach since 2009. He will take over the head coach role from Rob Penney, who is moving to Ireland to coach Munster.
Matson is a former All Blacks, Canterbury and Crusaders centre. He played five games for the All Blacks in 1995-1996, played 58 times for Canterbury and earned 25 caps for the Crusaders
Matson also played two tests for Fiji at the 1999 World Cup, played for Brive in France in 1998-2000, London Irish in 2000-2001, and Yamaha in Japan in 2001-2006.
His other coaching roles have included head coach at Yamaha, head coach with the Gold Coast Breakers, and an assistant role with the University of Queensland.
CRFU Chief Executive Hamish Riach said Matson was an obvious choice for the role: “We are delighted that Tabai has accepted the job. He has been a superb assistant coach for Canterbury, helping to lead the team to successive provincial titles.
“We are fortunate to have someone with his extensive playing and coaching experience available to fill this position.”
Matson said he was honoured to be taking over as head coach for a team so close to his heart: “As a former Canterbury player and assistant coach, this is a team I am proud to be involved with and to be able to step up to the head coach role is the pinnacle.
“We have been so well lead over the past six years by Rob Penney and I hope to be as good a guardian of the jersey as he was.”
The assistant coach position vacated by Matson is to be advertised soon.