Blues keep their championship-winning coach
NEWS: Leon MacDonald, who guided the Blues to this year’s Trans-Tasman title, will remain at the franchise as head coach for a further two years.
MacDonald took over the reins as head coach in 2019, overseeing significant development with the playing squad on and off the field, and led a new coaching group including Tom Coventry, Daniel Halangahu, Tana Umaga and Ben Afeaki.
The former All Black moved into coaching after injury forced his retirement from the game, fashioning an impressive record as head coach at the Tasman Mako before heading north to the Blues.
When Umaga decided to step aside from the head coaching role to become defensive coach, MacDonald was promoted to head coach in 2019.
The 43-year-old said he was keen to sign for a further two-year tenure.
“From a rugby standpoint this club has made huge strides but we know there is a lot more to do. We also know there is a massive talent pool here and our development as a Super Rugby club has so much potential,” said MacDonald.
“We are developing strong connections within our three provincial unions with a clear focus on growing the game on and off the field for players, coaches and staff.
“I am excited by that challenge and looking forward to the opportunities ahead of us.
“Off the field, my wife and family have grown to love this place. It is a fantastic city which really offers something for everyone.”
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MacDonald said a key reason for extending his stay at the Blues is the quality of his coaching group led by assistant coaches Coventry, Halangahu and Afeaki although the first job is to secure a new defensive coach to fill the void after Umaga decided to pursue his family business interests.
“Tana will be sorely missed for his work both on and off the field, but at the same time a new coach will bring a new dimension and hopefully challenge us on our thoughts and processes.”
He said the Blues also have a top-class support staff led by strength and conditioning coach Phil Healey.
Blues CEO Andrew Hore said he and his Board were thrilled that MacDonald has agreed to stay at the helm.
“Leon has guided our group who have developed into an excellent coaching team, and a superb staff not only in their individual roles, but collectively into a group who are fully supportive of our culture and heritage, our connections with our provincial unions and development pathways, and to bring pride to our region.”
NZ Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby & High Performance, Chris Lendrum said: “To retain a coach of Leon’s quality and experience is a great result for New Zealand Rugby and the Blues.
“He has earned the respect of his players both as a person and a coach that is borne out with the results he has achieved with Tasman at Bunnings NPC level and the Blues in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
“I’m sure he will continue to make a positive impact to his playing group in the coming seasons and we look forward his ongoing contribution in Super Rugby Pacific.”View this media release in your browser