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Gatland Named Chiefs Head Coach

Less than 24 hours after it was announced that Colin Cooper would leave the club Warren Gatland has been confirmed as their new main man

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has been announced as the new head coach of New Zealand Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs.

The club confirmed on Friday that Gatland, who takes over from Colin Cooper, has signed a four-year deal which will begin following the conclusion of this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Gatland previously managed Waikato Rugby Union and was a technical advisor at the Chiefs before his move to the international stage. The Six Nations most successful coach with four titles including an incredible three Grand Slams is delighted to have returned to home soil.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to come back home. The opportunity to come back as head coach of the Chiefs is something that I am really looking forward to. The Chiefs are well known for the success they have had both on and off the field and the really loyal support they have from everyone within the Chiefs region. I’m excited to come back and be a part of the Chiefs community with the players, the fans, the sponsors, it’s something I really look forward to,” he said.

As well as all his Welsh success Gatland has also coached the British & Irish Lions in both Australia and New Zealand, securing a series win and draw respectively.

It was confirmed earlier this year that Gatland will lead the Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa and his deal with the Chiefs accounts for a period of leave to accompany this.

New Zealand Rugby’s head of professional rugby believes that the signing of Gatland is exciting for New Zealand Rugby as a whole.

“This is an outstanding appointment and a coup for the Chiefs, for Super Rugby and for the game in New Zealand generally. We are excited to have a coach of Warren’s experience and international standing coming back into our environment,” he said.

Meanwhile Chiefs CEO Michael Collins is excited about the prospect of Gatland’s return, insisting he can build on the foundations left by Cooper.

“Warren is a world-class coach who boasts a proven track record. With a sound rugby background and his desire to return home to New Zealand and be involved in Super Rugby naturally made him a top choice for the role. Like Warren, we are excited for his return to the Chiefs environment. He will continue to build on the work Colin Cooper and his team management have achieved in maintaining a sustainable high-performance environment for the club,” he said.

Gatland is also set to manage the Barbarians in a November test against current side Wales upon their return from the World Cup.

The question that many fans will wonder is if this is the final step before Gatland takes the reins at the All Blacks in a move that has been hinted at for some time, but we will have to wait and see.


Super Rugby

Former English International to join the Highlanders

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English first-five Freddie Burns will join the Highlanders for the 2023 edition of DHL Super Rugby Pacific. Burns, currently playing for Leicester Tigers in the English Premiership has agreed terms with the Highlanders, and with the support of Leicester, will land in New Zealand prior to the first round.

The 32-year-old Burns will bring with him a wealth of experience having started his first-class career with Gloucester back in 2010. His first turn at Leicester was between 2014-2017 before three seasons with Bath and Burns has over 200 appearances in the Premiership to his name. In 2021 he had a short sojourn in Japan before returning to Leicester for the 2022 season.

A former England U20 representative he represented the senior side five times most notably debuting against the All Blacks in 2012, replacing Owen Farrell, in their 38-21 victory.

A prolific goal kicker and tactically sound first-five, who can also play fullback, he was the toast of Leicester when he dropkicked the winning goal for the Tigers against Saracens in the 2022 Gallagher Premiership final.

Burns is looking forward to the experience.

“As a young lad I grew up watching Super rugby in the early hours of morning. To have the opportunity to represent such a prestigious club as the Highlanders in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season is a huge honour. I look forward to getting started and adding to the group both on and off the field”

Highlanders Head Coach Clarke Dermody has welcomed the arrival of the experienced playmaker.

“Having a player of Freddie’s calibre available to us in such a crucial position is a real boost for the squad. Last year we were exposed at 10 due to a run of injuries and while we covered the situation, we were asking a lot of Sam Gilbert and Vili Koroi who are not regular starting first-fives. Freddie’s arrival will provide us with that extra insurance against that scenario playing out again in 2023”.

Burns will be the second international back to be added to Dermody’s 2023 squad with Argentinian outside back Martin Bogado also set to play in Highlanders colours.

 

ENDS

Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby


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Super Rugby

BLUES PRE-SEASON FIXTURES TO BE MOVED

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The Blues, alongside Mahurangi Rugby Club have made the decision to move their pre-season event – Blues Fest ’23 – away from Mahurangi Rugby Club due to the condition of the field.

The recent bad weather around the Blues region has meant ground staff haven’t been able to work on the field and after a check last week the tough decision was made to move the two games and nib Blues open training session to a new venue.

A final decision on a new location for Blues Fest ’23 is yet to be made.

Blues CEO, Andrew Hore, said the club were gutted to make the tough call.

“As a club we were getting excited to head north for the pre-season,” said Hore.

“Unfortunately, the weather has conspired against us in recent weeks and when we met with Mahurangi Rugby Club on Friday, both parties agreed the field hadn’t responded how we would’ve hoped, and the call was made to move the event.”

Mahurangi Council of Clubs Delegate, Sam Ryburn, said the club were taking a philosophical view over the change.

“We were very much looking forward to hosting the Blues at Mahurangi for Blues Fest ’23,” said Ryburn.

“There’s not a lot we can do, both The Blues and our club explored all the options before coming to this decision, but we’re hoping to continue our relationship with the Blues and look at future options for hosting pre-season matches.”

The Blues still intend to host the entire Blues Fest ’23 programme including a ‘Game of Three Halves’ between North Harbour, Northland and Auckland development players, a nib Blues women open training session and the Blues men vs Hurricanes pre-season match.

A decision on where this will be held will be communicated in the coming days.

Content & Images from – Blues Rugby


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Super Rugby

Richie Mo’unga to depart Crusaders after 2023

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Mo’unga debuted for the Crusaders on 27 February 2016, facing the Chiefs at home and scoring 13 points. He made the starting line-up for the rest of the season.

 

“This team has given so much to me as a rugby player and as a person, and in return I’ve always wanted to give my everything to the team both on and off the field, to help us succeed, and to be the best environment for players,” Mo’unga said.

 

Asked about his star first-five’s departure after the 2023 season, Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said Mo’unga was “a special man”.

 

“If there’s one player that continues to leave their mark on this team, that’d be Richie Mo’unga,” Robertson said.

 

“Through his performances in the biggest games, the biggest moments – he stood up, which Crusaders do. He’s a special man, a local boy, pride of the community, and there’s no doubt about it – Richie can play.

 

“When Richie is on, the team is on. He brings out the best from all the players. For me, he is one of the most influential Super Rugby players ever – how he plays the game, his ability to score points consistently year after year in those crucial moments.

 

“The biggest thing for me with Richie is how much he cares about the team and the club, about the players he plays with and the people he plays for. He means a lot to the Crusaders and we wish him all the best. There’ll be a time to properly say goodbye to him at the end of the season, but for now we’re all focused on the job in front of us.”

 

Richie Mo’unga and the Crusaders kick off their 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season against the Chiefs on 24 February at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch. Memberships are available now.

Content & Images from – Crusaders Rugby


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