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Crusaders grow global reach through International Academy

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A refresh and refocus of the Crusaders International Academy has been a success story for the New Zealand-based Super Rugby Club over the past 12 months.

Formerly the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, the new-look International Academy is managed by former Black Ferns coach, Grant Keenan. Keenan has set his sights on developing key partnerships in the pacific region, Asia, and through the United States and Europe.

"We have been running a very successful inbound programme for players and coaches here at Rugby Park in Christchurch for a number of years and, alongside these established programmes, we are now developing programmes and tools that will be delivered globally," Keenan said.

"Every programme is tailored to meet the needs of the club or group, and can be adapted to focus on elite player development, coach development or the structure of the club as a whole. With our knowledge-base and high performance experience, we can implement a programme that best meets the needs of the end user."

The Crusaders have a long term successful partnership with the University of Cantebrury (UC) and are currently working closely with UC to align and develop some of our International Academy programs with post graduate qualifications.

In addition, a recently-formed partnership with the University of Wollongong will focus on delivering playing programmes for enrolled students in Australia in 2021.

A trip to the United States late in 2019 has also opened the door to further opportunities for Keenan to showcase the International Academy: "The opportunity to connect with clubs and rugby programmes in the US is growing every year. We recently visited Alaska for a week-long training programme, and it’s amazing to see the passion for the game of rugby in all parts of the US."

The Crusaders are renowned across the rugby-playing world, not just for their success in the Super Rugby competition, which involves teams from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan, but also for the player development and coaching programme on which that success is built.

As well as winning 10 Super Rugby titles in the competition’s 24-year history, the Crusaders have produced a large number of All Blacks and many world-renowned rugby coaches, including former All Blacks coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, and former Scotland coach, Vern Cotter.

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said: "We are excited about the opportunity to grow the Crusaders organisation globally, and take our club to the world. Through the Crusaders International Academy, we already have links in Europe, America and Asia, so extending our existing international programmes is a natural progression for the club."

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