WELLINGTON: Canterbury Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder announced Tuesday he will leave the New Zealand Super Rugby club at the end of the 2016 season.
Blackadder, 44, said that by then he would have been in charge for eight years and a change was needed.
“Eight years is a relatively long time in coaching and I feel that the time is right for someone else to take the reins and lead the team in their own direction,” he said.
The Crusaders are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles, but they have so far failed to win the competition under Blackadder.
During his seven seasons in charge, they have made the final twice and semi-finals four times but did not make the play-offs this year for the first time since 2001.
Blackadder said he knew there would be speculation about his future and wanted to clarify the situation before the 2016 campaign began.
“One of the important things to come out of our 2015 season review is that distractions were a problem for us,” he said.
“So that’s why I was keen to make my intentions clear before the season begins to avoid my future becoming a distraction for the team.”
Blackadder, who was a foundation player for the Crusaders in 1996 before launching his coaching career, said he had no plans for the future beyond working on the 2016 season.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said the team was “incredibly lucky” to have had Blackadder as a player and coach.
“He has a kind of cult hero status around these parts, and that’s because of the incredible passion and loyalty that he has always displayed for this team,” Riach said.
The Crusaders said “an open and contestable” search for a new coach would begin after the upcoming season ended.