Rugby: NZRU bends rules to let Deans stay

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) has opened a potential can of worms by allowing Wallabies coach Robbie Deans to continue his role with the Crusaders next year.

The union has plenty of work ahead of it before settling on some practical protocols for Deans to work within ahead of the Super 14 competition starting in February.

Deans, the long-time Crusaders mentor, will guide the Crusaders through to late May while also donning his Wallabies cap after today being appointed for a four-year term as Australian coach.

Until the international season starts he will have a difficult balancing act to maintain, separating the two roles as he prepares a side to play teams containing players he will coach for Australia.

The potential conflicts of interest are obvious - and acknowledged today by NZRU chief executive Chris Moller.

However, Moller downplayed that, saying Deans' personal qualities persuaded the NZRU to bend its own rules and allow Deans to stay on as Crusaders coach for 2008.

Board policy dictates that under normal circumstances a coach contracted by another tier one union (Six Nations, Sanzar, Argentina) will not be allowed to coach in the Super 14.

"But Robbie is an exceptional case," Moller said.

"He has played for the All Blacks, he has been the assistant coach of the All Blacks, he has an absolutely outstanding record in many years with Canterbury and the Crusaders ... and he is a man of great integrity and loyalty.

"On that basis the board and management of the NZRU are absolutely confident that Robbie can wear two hats at the same time."

That said, the NZRU will put in place some protocols for Deans to work within.

"There are a number of issues we need to work through. We still need to sit down and agree to some protocols to put around this rather unique and special set of circumstances," Moller said.

"We have discussed some of that with Robbie's advisors at a high level and we'll proceed to put some more meat around it during the course of the next week.

"They will not be onerous things. Robbie is a man of great integrity and great loyalty. On the basis of that it will be good practice around of him doing what is in the best interests of the Crusaders and making sure intellectual property is protected.

"Largely, we will rely on the integrity of the individual."

- NZPA

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