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Boyd to leave Hurricanes for Northampton Saints

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Hurricanes Super Rugby winning head coach Chris Boyd has agreed to leave the Wellington team and take charge of English Premiership club Northampton Saints.

Boyd has agreed a three year deal with Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens and will join the English club after the 2018 Super Rugby season finishes in August.

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

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

Boyd was also an assistant coach during Tonga’s 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign when the pacific island nation famously beat France – the eventual losing finalists – for the first time.

“We are absolutely delighted Chris has accepted our offer to join the club,” said Northampton Saints CEO Mark Darbon.

“The club conducted an extensive search and Chris stood out as the exceptional candidate.

“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.

“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’s Super Rugby record now stands at 43-11 in three seasons and, impressively, his side did not concede a single try in the 2016 playoffs. They made the semi-finals 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 am humbled and excited to be joining Saints,” he said. “Northampton Saints is a Club I have admired all of my coaching career.

“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 Mitre 10 Cup 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 TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea – romping to a 20–3 triumph over the Lions in the final.

“Chris has an impressive record as a coach and getting him over to Northampton is a massive statement for the Club and confirmation of our determination to compete at the highest level,” added Saints Chairman John White.

“I know I am speaking for everyone at Saints when I say that we are very much looking forward to working with him when he arrives ahead of next season.”

The 59-year-old said it had been a difficult decision, but the right one at this point in his career.

“I’m passionate about the Hurricanes and making the call not to carry on was a tough one, but the opportunity at Northampton presented an exciting new challenge that was too good to pass up.

“With my coaching future now decided I can fully focus on the 2018 season and making sure my final year is a memorable one.”

Boyd, whose Hurricanes contract ends in 2018, said it was important the announcement about his coaching future had been made before the current season kicked off, so to avoid any potential distraction to his squad.

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.”

Boyd’s record over three seasons stands at an impressive 42 wins from 53 matches with the Hurricanes reaching two Super Rugby finals in 2015 and 2016 before missing out in the semi-final to the Lions in 2017.

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