Former All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne has been appointed as one of Canterbury’s co-coaches, along with Mark Brown, to lead their Mitre 10 Cup squad in 2020.
Thorne and Brown, who are the Crusaders’ current assistant coaches and also served as Canterbury’s assistants the past season, will share the head coach position vacated by Joe Maddock at the end of the 2019 campaign.
“We are thrilled to appoint Reuben and Mark to lead our Mitre 10 Cup programme,” said Canterbury Rugby CEO Tony Smail.
“We were fortunate to have a number of quality applicants, but Reuben and Mark stood out with their vision for the role, their combined skill set and the valuable cohesion they offer as existing members of the coaching group.
“While the CRFU didn’t embark on this recruitment process with a particular coaching structure in mind, Reuben and Mark’s joint application was compelling, and we believe their combined leadership qualities will be hugely beneficial through the next provincial season and beyond.
“Now that we have confirmed the coaches who will lead our programme, we’re excited to work with them as they structure the remainder of their coaching team in preparation for the 2020 campaign.”
Thorne represented Canterbury 71 times between 1996-2011, including as a member of the national title winning sides in 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2011. He captained both the Crusaders and the All Blacks during his career, leading the Crusaders through their unbeaten Super Rugby season in 2002, and captaining the All Blacks to 20 wins in 23 matches.
Thorne’s transition to coaching included a senior rugby role with High School Old Boys in 2011 and 2012, and time as technical advisor with Honda Rugby in Japan.
Canterbury appoint assistants Reuben Thorne and Mark Brown as co-coaches https://t.co/qGhk94MIvA pic.twitter.com/wQJCcvkefs
— Rugby Heaven (@NZRugbyHeaven) December 9, 2019
He has assisted in a number of position-specific coaching roles with the Crusaders and Canterbury sides, and has been forwards coach with the Mitre 10 Cup side since 2018.
“This provincial union means a lot to me, and to be given the opportunity to step up to the role of head coach is an honour,” said Thorne.
“Consistency and cohesion in our group is important, and Mark and I are really aligned on our direction for the Mitre 10 Cup programme moving forward.
“We’ve coached together for a few years now so we know we collaborate well, and we were fortunate to learn a lot from Joe Maddock during his tenure as head coach, which was beneficial for the both of us. I’m looking forward to what is an exciting new challenge.”
Brown joined the Canterbury coaching group in 2017 as assistant forwards coach, but prior to that he spent four years in charge of the successful Canterbury U19 squad.
He coached the side to two semi-finals and two finals in the Jock Hobbs Memorial National U19 tournament, including a Premiership title during the 2015 season. In 2018, he took over from Maddock as head coach of the Crusaders Knights Development team.
Brown added: “The experience I’ve gained in this environment over the past few years has been invaluable, and it’s a privilege to be asked to lead a side that has such a proud history.
“There is a massive challenge ahead of us – provincial rugby gets more and more competitive every year – but it’s something Reuben and I will embrace and look forward to as planning for our 2020 campaign takes shape.
“For me personally, this is a fantastic opportunity to take the next step in my coaching career with a Canterbury side I’m incredibly proud to represent.”
The appointment of assistant coaches for the Canterbury Mitre 10 Cup side will be announced in due course.