Todd Blackadder and Tabai Matson have confirmed their move to Bath. Their final days in Christchurch will be spent raking over the coals of a Super Rugby campaign which promised much but ended in a disappointing quarter-final defeat to the Lions before they leave for pre-season training at their new English club in a few weeks.

Their impending departure could add bite to their side of the review at the Crusaders, who were top of the New Zealand conference before the June break, before slipping to fourth following defeats to the Chiefs in Fiji and Hurricanes in Christchurch, their 13-try demolition of the Rebels between those losses proving a false dawn.

The announcement of Blackadder's move brings to an end his eight-year reign at the Crusaders, the head coach not quite managing to win the title he won three times in a row as their captain; the inconsistent recent performances from his players which were mostly absent before this year's international break returning with a vengeance afterwards.

History will show that his best years were in 2011, the year of the earthquakes when they tripped up against the Reds in the Brisbane final, and the controversial last-minute final loss against the Waratahs in Sydney in 2014.


"That will be a big part of the review - what happened after that break - because we were tracking quite well, weren't we? We had really good momentum and then we lost to two semifinalists, really, the Chiefs and the Hurricanes," Blackadder told the Herald. "Probably for the Chiefs game we had our opportunities but made two simple errors and were punished for it. It shows what a dangerous side they are.

"With the Hurricanes game we competed really well, but we dropped a try when we should have scored just after halftime. Probably the most disappointing thing for us this year was the lack of resilience when we were under pressure. It's hard to know why but after June the energy just wasn't there."

Blackadder and Matson, his assistant, will replace departed coaches Mike Ford and Neal Hatley at Bath, a club who have had their own disappointments recently. The team finished ninth of 12 on the Premiership table, and their supporters will be hopeful the incoming pair can turn things around quickly at a club which is 150 years old.

Blackadder will join as director of rugby and Matson as head coach following interviews in Christchurch with managing director Tarquin McDonald and retired captain Stuart Hooper. Blackadder indicated at the start of the year that he would step down after this season, while Matson, an assistant at the Crusaders since 2013, made up his mind after losing out on the top job for next year and beyond to Scott Robertson.

The pair negotiated their contracts independent of each other and Blackadder has signed for three years, while Matson has signed for four.

"It's a good team with a great history and a beautiful place to live," Blackadder said. "It's really about the people and the Bath guys had a really clear vision about what they wanted, and I'm excited about the challenge.

"We've been coaching together for a long time and it's a privilege to coach with Tabs. He's a bloody great coach ... it should be a lot easier than going over there on your own."