Saints lure successful Kiwi coach to Franklin's Gardens

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 18:57

TRANSFER NEWS: Another successful New Zealand coach will depart his country to coach in the Northern Hemisphere.

English Premiership club Northampton Saints revealed that New Zealander Chris Boyd will be their new Director of Rugby - signing a three-year deal.

The 59-year-old, who will start work at Franklin's Gardens in August, will replace interim boss Alan Gaffney, who has been in charge since Jim Mallinder was sacked in December.

Boyd has coached the Wellington-based Hurricanes since the 2015 campaign, guiding the New Zealand franchise to their first-ever Super Rugby title the following year.

"I am humbled and excited to be joining Saints," Boyd said.

"The club's ambitions match my own," he added. "I am confident I can help the Saints become one of the biggest and best teams in Europe."

Northampton Chief Executive Mark Darbon said Boyd stood out as the exceptional candidate for the club, who are currently third from bottom of the Premiership table.

"We said at the start of the process that we were looking for a world-class director of rugby, and we've secured one of the very best," he said.

"Chris' CV speaks for itself; his achievements in Super Rugby are notable and his experience with the New Zealand age group sides is impressive. His track record of building a championship-winning side with a mix of experienced and young players was exactly what we were looking for.

"His teams play attacking rugby and Chris is well known as a deep thinker with an immense rugby brain who communicates well with his players. We look forward to him taking charge later this year."

Boyd also has experience with the South African franchise, the Sharks - working as an assistant coach in Durban from 2009 to 2010 - and coached the 'Baby Blacks', New Zealand's Under-20 side, between 2011 and 2014.

Boyd was also an assistant coach during Tonga's 2011 World Cup campaign when the Pacific Island nation famously beat France - the eventual losing finalists - for the first time.

Boyd's Super Rugby record now stands at 43 victories and 11 defeats in three seasons and, impressively, his side did not concede a single try in the 2016 play-offs. They made the semifinals again in 2017, but with the call then coming from Northampton, Boyd admits he is relishing taking on a new challenge at Franklin's Gardens.

"I visited Franklin's Gardens for a week in 2004 when Wayne Smith was head coach, and remember the passion of the Saints supporters and the strong culture at the club.

"Franklin's Gardens is an excellent stadium with first-class facilities, and when John White and Mark Darbon outlined the vision for Saints, it was a project I very much wanted to be part of.

"The Club's ambitions match my own - I am confident I can help the Saints become one of the biggest and best teams in Europe.

"I have always aspired to coach in the Aviva Premiership and I am relishing the opportunity to work with this talented squad of players."

The Kiwi has been coaching continuously for over 30 years and is one of the most experienced head coaches in world rugby. He began his career with nine years at Tawa Rugby Club before progressing from second XV coach to assistant coach at hometown club Wellington Lions, ultimately getting the top job in 2011 after his stint with the Sharks.

He steered Wellington to the 2013 NPC Final, but it has been his work with the Hurricanes since 2015 that has really thrust him into the limelight. Boyd so nearly completed a fairy-tale first season with the franchise - his side narrowly losing out to the Highlanders in the Super Rugby Final after topping the regular-season table.

But despite losing the likes of Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush, the Hurricanes went all the way to the Super Rugby title the following season, with Boyd's side - captained by Dane Coles and boasting World Cup winners Thomas Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea - romping to a 20-3 triumph over the Lions in the final.

Hurricanes Chief Executive Avan Lee said Boyd’s successor would be announced in due course.

“I think the main thing right now is that with Boydy’s plans for 2019 confirmed everybody’s collective focus will be solely on 2018 and giving the Hurricanes the best possible chance at another title,” he said.

Lee said Boyd’s place in Hurricanes folklore was assured after he led the club to its first Super Rugby title in 2016.

“Boydy’s done a great job and we are sad to see him go, but we understand Northampton is a great opportunity for him and we’ll be wishing him all the best when he heads away.”

New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen acknowledged Boyd's achievements as a coach in New Zealand.

“Chris has made an awesome contribution to rugby in New Zealand, both as a Super Rugby coach and provincial coach, but also to the New Zealand Under 20 programme.  Boydy will forever be written into the record books as the first coach to win a Super Rugby championship title for the Hurricanes and his record to date places him as one of the most successful super coaches.  Although we will wish him well when he does leave, for the moment, we look forward to seeing him lead his ‘Canes team in this year’s competition.”

 

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