After leading the Crusaders to a fourth successive Super Rugby title at the weekend, Scott Robertson is arguably the rugby coach in hottest demand globally. And after much speculation the man affectionately known as Razor, who missed out to Ian Foster for the All Blacks job and is out of contract next season, has made a call on his future.
All-conquering coach Scott Robertson is likely to re-sign with New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders rather than move offshore, the Herald can reveal.
Robertson, celebrating his fourth Super Rugby title in four years in charge of the Crusaders after his side came from behind to beat the Highlanders 32-22 to claim the Super Rugby Aotearoa title on a gloriously sunny winter afternoon in Christchurch yesterday, is expected to announce his decision soon.
His current contract runs out at the end of next year, and the big fear among Crusaders' supporters and those of New Zealand rugby in general, was that he would accept a lucrative contract with an overseas national team after Ian Foster beat him to the All Blacks' head coaching role.
Robertson was extremely disappointed at the decision just before Christmas last year and will have had no shortage of suitors since given his extraordinary winning record with the Crusaders – only seven defeats in 69 matches – and his ability to both get the best out of his leading players, for example All Blacks first-five Richie Mo'unga, and create incredible depth among his wider squad.
Mo'unga has gone to a new level since lockdown and was once again recognised as man of the match at Orangetheory Stadium, an accolade he has become used to receiving over this short but extremely intense and high quality Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
The 45-year-old Robertson, who has three sons with wife Jane, felt his presentation for the country's top coaching role went over the heads of the selection panel but probably feels there is still potential for plenty of success at the Crusaders. The relative security and safety of working in Christchurch amid the Covid-19 pandemic may also play a part in his decision.
It is understood that he is looking at an additional two years with the red and blacks which would take him to the end of 2023, a World Cup year, after which the rugby landscape – both here and overseas – may look very different, as might the world in general.
The news is likely to be greeted with delight by fans of the Crusaders, who may have endured some anxious moments during yesterday's match against their team's southern rivals given the red and blacks were behind by 10 points in the second half before coming back with their usual final-quarter surge, and a measure of dismay among some supporters of opposition teams.
The Crusaders have been totally dominant since Robertson took over from another former All Black, Todd Blackadder, at the end of 2016. Last year Robertson was the first coach to win three Super Rugby titles in a row and he is now building a dynasty that will be extremely hard to topple. He is never shy about stating his goals – or celebrating his successes - and is probably already planning for title number five.
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Insiders have said that the talent coming through the Crusaders' academy at its Rugby Park headquarters is among the best it has been for many years. With Robertson, the man known as Razor and equally at home on a surfboard or skateboard as he is with a whistle in his hand, remaining, those young players will invariably be the stars of the near future.
After the victory over the Highlanders, Robertson said he would impose a curfew on his celebrating players as they still had one challenge left for the season – a still highly-anticipated match against the vastly improved Blues at what will likely be a sold-out Eden Park next Sunday afternoon.
Respecting that game, the integrity of the competition, and injured prop Oli Jager, who was taken from the field on a stretcher after a nasty collision, were the reasons why Robertson didn't do his usual post-title-win celebratory breakdance but some of the team's fans may not be able to restrain themselves given this latest news.