Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ex-All Black Kieran Crowley named new Canada coach

Kiwi head coaches are at an international premium these days, with All Black passovers Warren Gatland and Robbie Deans scooped by Wales and Australia, respectively, and John Kirwan in Japan . . . there might even be another (or two) whose names escape me this second, but you can now add Kieran Crowley's name to the list. He's been named as Canada's new senior mens head coach, and hopefully will build a foundation at this years' Churchill Cup and develop the team headed towards the 2011 RWC.

Rugby Canada press release:


March 17, 2008
Richmond Hill, ON

Rugby Canada is pleased to announce former New Zealand All Black Kieran Crowley has been selected as Canada's new senior men's team coach.

The 35 times capped former fullback emerged as the clear winner from the coaching search process that saw a committee of five work through a list of strong candidates since the start of the new year.

Crowley will take over the 15th ranked Canadian side as early as next month, and says he is excited about the prospect of guiding Canada through to the World Cup in his home country in 2011.

"We talked about it a lot at home and we saw what (Rugby Canada) has to offer and what we have to offer (Rugby Canada) and are really looking forward to the opportunity of working in Canada," said the 46 year old New Zealander. "Hopefully we will have a successful time and develop things along the way. We are really looking forward to it."

Chairman of the search committee, Rugby Canada Director David Robertson, is pleased with the selection and admits when the process started he did not think a coach of Crowley's pedigree would possibly emerge.

"To be honest we weren't sure because we could see what was happening around the world," Robertson revealed. "You know, Warren Gatland going to Wales and immediately taking Shaun Edwards across to help him. Nick Mallet going to Italy, Jake White on the market as it were.

"We wondered what level we would attract from overseas knowing that we had some good domestic candidates," he continued.

"I think with Kieran in some ways was a very pleasant surprise that not only was his resume on the table but that his interest in the position was sincere."

Crowley comes off a nine year stint with Provincial side Taranaki where he was both assistant coach and head coach. He also guided the New Zealand U19 side to an IRB World Championship in 2007 in Dublin.

As a player Crowley played for Kaponga where he was first selected to the All Blacks in 1983 at age 22 for a match against South of Scotland. His full international debut came two years later against England in Christchurch. Through his career he had a 105 test points including five tries, while he had a further eight tries in non-test matches in the All Blacks uniform.

He won a World Cup in the inaugural event in 1987 and played his last test in the 1991 World Cup - a semi-final loss to Australia.

As a player for Taranaki he played 200 times, finishing his playing career in 1994, when he was made a life time member of the club.

From 2001 to 2003 he was a selector for the All Blacks senior men's side - including the 2003 World Cup, under then coach, John Mitchell.

Crowley says he watched Canada's performance during the 2007 World Cup and felt it is a team on the move.

"My impression of them at the moment is that they are a very physical team and they have very good set piece plays," said Crowley. "There is still work to be done in those areas but they have done well and the area that possibly needs improvement I think is the vision or the ability to change things when things are not as structured as they should be.

"I think that is a legacy of the fact that (Canadian) players don't start playing until a little bit older than they do in New Zealand and it is just the rugby mentality I suppose."

He says the experience of coaching Taranaki and the U19 All Blacks will be a good platform for coaching a young Canadian side.

"I think any team no matter how good you are - even the All Blacks - you are still teaching skills," offered Crowley. "You still have to pay attention to and address those micro-skills that are needed and involved in a game.

"There are some very good people in (Rugby Canada) who are coaching and who are teaching those skills and I don't think the skill base is actually a huge problem, there are a lot of skills there.

"We just need to combine that into the actual playing of the game and bringing the rugby psyche as far as playing the games and that sort of thing into being."

Robertson is pleased with the choice of Crowley, and says the process that brought it about, using a committee comprised of himself, High Performance Director Geraint John, Rugby Canada CEO Graham Brown, recently retired player Mike James and former coach and board member Dr. Pat Parfrey, was very rewarding.

"That search committee worked extremely well and brought different perspectives to the table," said Robertson, who is Headmaster at Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island and is a former Scottish Senior Mens' squad member. "The Chairman, Rick Bourne dutifully listened in on every interview that we did whether it was telephone or face to face, just so that he could get a feel for what was going on and that was welcome too.

"It was a bit of a daunting task to be confronted with given my newness to the whole setup. Hopefully we have come up with the right answer and the right response and we just want success for the game in Canada. I hope this will be it."

Crowley has been married sixteen years to wife Sue, an accountant, and they have three children; Son Jayden - 13, 12 year old Nicole and 10 year old daughter Casey.

Kieran Crowley Fact File

FULL NAME Kieran James Crowley

BORN Thursday, 31 August 1961 in Kaponga

AGE 46

COACHING: New Zealand U19 Men's Team - World Champions 2007,

Coached Provincial side Taranaki from 1998 - 2007


PHYSICAL 1.84m, 84kg


LAST SCHOOL Sacred Heart College

RUGBY CLUB (First made All Blacks from) Kaponga



ALL BLACK DEBUT Saturday, 29 October 1983 v South of Scotland at Galashiels aged 22 years, 59 days

INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Saturday, 1 June 1985 v England at Christchurch aged 23 years, 274 days

LAST TEST Sunday, 27 October 1991 v Australia at Dublin aged 30 years, 57 days

ALL BLACK TESTS 19 (0 as Captain)

ALL BLACK GAMES 16 (0 as Captain)


ALL BLACK TEST POINTS 105pts (5t, 5c, 23p, 2dg, 0m)

ALL BLACK GAME POINTS 211pts (8t, 31c, 38p, 1dg, 0m)

TOTAL ALL BLACK POINTS 316pts (13t, 36c, 61p, 3dg, 0m)


Rugby Museum profile:

Born in Kaponga, Kieran Crowley went to secondary school at Sacred Heart College, Auckland, where he was in the 1st XV in 1977. Back in Taranaki he was selected for the 1979 North Island Under-18 team and the following year made his Taranaki debut as an 18 year old, playing variously at fullback, wing, and second five eight. He also appeared for the New Zealand Colts team in 1980, and again the following two seasons.

After a New Zealand trial in 1982 and playing for the North Island in 1983 Kieran Crowley came into the All Black side to tour England and Scotland when the original selection Allan Hewson was injured in training prior to the team's departure. In 1984 he played for New Zealand on the short tour to Fiji after missing selection for the earlier tour to Australia.

His test debut came against England in 1985 when he scored all his side's eighteen points with six penalty goals. He also appeared in tests against Australia and Argentina that year, and against Australia and France in 1986 after losing his place through touring South Africa with the Cavaliers.

Backup fullback to John Gallagher at the 1987 World Cup, and playing the pool match against Argentina, Crowley was then kept out of the All Blacks until Gallagher and Matthew Ridge switched to rugby league in 1990. He played the five domestic tests that season, plus two on the tour to France and also toured Argentina in 1991. Not an original choice for the 1991 World Cup he was called up after injury to Terry Wright and played the semi final against Australia.

Kieran Crowley continued to play for Taranaki until 1994, becoming its leading points scorer and one of the few players to play 200 games for his Union. He was made a life member of the Taranaki RFU in 1993.

A dependable fullback, unjustly criticised for a supposed lack of attacking flair, Crowley played 36 matches (20 tests) and scored 320 points for New Zealand. His younger brothers Alan (N Z Sevens rep.), Sean and Neil also played for Taranaki.

Kieran Crowley played cricket for Taranaki and Brabin Shield cricket for Central Districts. His involvement has continued with Taranaki rugby through coaching of the Taranaki Development team. In 2002 Crowley was made an All Blacks selector along with former All Black team mate Mark Shaw.


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