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Changes to Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby Administration

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crusaders.co.nz and James Mortimer     28 Mar 2013     Getty Images

Hamish Riach is appointed CEO of the Crusaders and will be directly employed by the Crusaders. Previously he was employed by the Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU). Riach continues with many of his responsibilities as CEO of the CRFU (via a contract agreement with the Crusaders) but without responsibility for the community game. His focus will now be very much on the professional and business side of the sport.

Riach’s appointment follows the decision of the New Zealand Rugby Union last year to allow a provincial rugby union regional consortium to operate the Crusaders under a new licence agreement.

In announcing the new arrangements, Crusaders Chairman Murray Ellis said “The new management structure, with Hamish as CEO, is a positive step forward for the Crusaders. It will enable us to focus on the professional rugby business and deliver a highly successful commercial operation that will serve the interests of the team, fans, sponsors and rugby. Super Rugby has gone from strength to strength and our organisation needs to ensure we adapt to thrive now and in the future.”

Riach said “The change to my role coincides with the birth of the Crusaders Limited Partnership and the commitment made by the regional Provincial Unions to the management and success of the Crusaders. I am grateful to have the opportunity, and really excited about the future.”

Management of amateur rugby will now fall to Tim Gilkison who has been appointed the General Manager Community Rugby. Gilkison will report directly to the CRFU Board.

Gilkison said “I am delighted to be appointed General Manager Community Rugby. Community rugby plays an important role in our province and these management changes now ensure a strong focus on grassroots rugby and will help cultivate a wealth of talented players in years to come. It’s a win-win situation for both community and professional rugby.”

While the roles of Riach and Gilkison will now be slightly different, an integrated management model is in place that will ensure that there is ongoing cooperation and support for each entity. Canterbury Rugby remains a 60 per cent stakeholder in the Crusaders and so it has a strong interest in the Partnership’s success on and off the field.

Despite the changes Canterbury Rugby Football Union Chairman and Crusaders Director Stewart Mitchell says that the running of both the Crusaders and Canterbury rugby is unlikely to dramatically change in the short term. “To some degree it reflects the changing nature of rugby in New Zealand,” Mitchell says. “Being the professional arm of rugby in this region, the Crusaders have become increasingly important financially and the new structure reflects this. Things have significantly moved on from 1996 when the Crusaders first began.”

‘However, it also means that community rugby will receive even more prominence and attention within the union, as there will now be a direct reporting line and responsibility to the CRFU Board’

“The rugby public are not likely to find these changes particularly earth-shattering although they are important of course in the overall running of rugby.”

The management changes will take effect as of 01 April 2013.