Todd Blackadder to leave Bath: Director of rugby to quit a year early and join Japan side Toshiba

Todd Blackadder will leave Bath at the end of the season in order to take over at Japanese club Toshiba after being allowed to leave his contract a year earlier than planned.

The Premiership club announced on Wednesday that the New Zealander will depart after three seasons in the West Country, with the club yet to appoint a successor, despite signing a contract extension after the start of the season that runs until summer 2020.

Blackadder agreed to the extension as part of a ‘succession plan’ that Bath unveiled in September, which included promoting the current general manager and former club captain Stuart Hooper as his replacement whenever Blackadder’s time with the club came to an end.

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Bath have confirmed that they will announce their succession plans in the coming weeks between now and the end of the season, though it remains to be seen if they deem Hooper ready to step up despite no previous experience in a top job.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to lead the Blue, Black and White for the past three years and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved,” Blackadder said in a statement. “It might not be silverware but together we have built strong foundations and I leave knowing that the best is absolutely yet to come.


Six Nations Team of the Tournament





1/24 Six Nations Team of the Tournament

2/24 15. Liam Williams (Wales)

3/24 14. Josh Adams (Wales)

4/24 13. Henry Slade (England)

5/24 12. Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)

6/24 11. Jonny May (England)

7/24 10. Finn Russell (Scotland)

8/24 9. Ben Youngs (England)

9/24 1. Rob Evans (Wales)

10/24 2. Jamie George (England)

11/24 3. Kyle Sinckler (England)

12/24 4. George Kruis (England)

13/24 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

14/24 6. Josh Navidi (Wales)

15/24 7. Tom Curry (England)

16/24 8. Billy Vunipola (England)

17/24 16. Ken Owens (Wales)

18/24 17. Mako Vunipola (England)

19/24 18. Tomas Francis (Wales)

20/24 19. Cory Hill (Wales)

21/24 20. Justin Tipuric (Wales)

22/24 21. Antoine Dupont (France)

23/24 22. Gareth Anscombe (Wales)

24/24 23. Manu Tuilagi (England)

1/24 Six Nations Team of the Tournament

2/24 15. Liam Williams (Wales)

3/24 14. Josh Adams (Wales)

4/24 13. Henry Slade (England)

5/24 12. Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)

6/24 11. Jonny May (England)

7/24 10. Finn Russell (Scotland)

8/24 9. Ben Youngs (England)

9/24 1. Rob Evans (Wales)

10/24 2. Jamie George (England)

11/24 3. Kyle Sinckler (England)

12/24 4. George Kruis (England)

13/24 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

14/24 6. Josh Navidi (Wales)

15/24 7. Tom Curry (England)

16/24 8. Billy Vunipola (England)

17/24 16. Ken Owens (Wales)

18/24 17. Mako Vunipola (England)

19/24 18. Tomas Francis (Wales)

20/24 19. Cory Hill (Wales)

21/24 20. Justin Tipuric (Wales)

22/24 21. Antoine Dupont (France)

23/24 22. Gareth Anscombe (Wales)

24/24 23. Manu Tuilagi (England)

“Bath is a very special club. I’d like to thank everyone, especially the players and all of the staff. I also want to thank our supporters, even in the wind, rain and biting cold they are all at the Rec cheering us on. Thank you. Our sights remain set on a top four finish and we are all intent on making this season our best one yet.”

Blackadder survived speculation over his future earlier in the season, although the club have fallen short of expectations so far this season and while they can still qualify for the Premiership semi-finals with just five points between them and fourth-placed Harlequins, they still find Wasps and Northampton Saints between them and the play-offs and face a tricky trip to eighth-placed Sale Sharks when the Premiership resumes next weekend.

The 47-year-old has a healthy CV both on the field and off it, having captained the All Blacks in 14 of his 25 caps and making 71 appearances for the Crusaders during a five-year stint in the 1990s and early 2000s. He made the move to Europe in 2001 to join Edinburgh where he captained the Scottish side until 2004, before taking on his first coaching role as assistant to Frank Hadden, the former Scotland boss.

Upon his return to New Zealand Blackadder was given the Crusaders job in 2009 and was responsible for the likes of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw until his departure for Bath in 2016, reaching the Super Rugby final in 2011 and 2014 and the semi-finals in six of his eight years in charge.

Toshiba Brave Lupus are currently preparing for the new Japanese Top League season after finishing sixth out of eight in their conferences last time out, and while they have not won the title their haul of four wins in five years between 2004 and 2009, they do boast the likes of Japan captain Michael Leitch and former All Blacks centre Richard Kahui. Toshiba reportedly considered putting the club up for sale once the Rugby World Cup finishes this year, but the electronics giant denied this was the case and reaffirmed its commitment to the club’s future. Blackadder’s appointment from next season appears to be a big sign of this.

Bath’s chief executive Tarquin McDonald paid tribute to Blackadder for “changing the culture of the club”, after arriving at a time when the former Premiership and European champions found themselves in turmoil behind the scenes following Mike Ford’s departure.

“Todd and I have been open and consistent with our conversations regarding the progression and future of the rugby department,” McDonald said. “We are confident that the club can move forward and deliver on our long-term plan with solid foundations and a system that is ready to accommodate such change. I am pleased that we have been able to support Todd’s decision knowing it is right for him and his family.

“I have said before that it is a mark of Todd’s special and unique character, rare among coaches, that we have been able to bring about such positive change to the culture of our club whilst he has been at the helm. Todd leaves us a stronger club than the one he joined three years ago. He has been a pleasure to work with and I would like to thank him not only for his contribution of what has gone by but also for what is yet to come. I wish him every success for the future.”

 

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