Outgoing Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 17: Chief Executive Officer Hamish Riach of the Crusaders and Matt Todd of the Crusaders (L-R) have a chat following the round four Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Blues at AMI Stadium on March 17, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby acknowledged the leadership of outgoing Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach, who announced he is stepping down from the position; after 17 years in the role.

Riach, who led both Crusaders and Canterbury for 16 years before focussing on the Super Rugby club, will leave at the end of the 2018 Investec Super Rugby season.

Outgoing Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach – Rugby’s most effective Leader

NZR chief rugby officer Nigel Cass said Riach was one of the most successful administrators in the game domestically and internationally. “Under his watch, the Crusaders have won five Super Rugby titles and Canterbury have won 10 national championships.

“But beyond that, both organisations under his leadership, helped to steer and support the Canterbury region and community through some tough years.

“The fact that he has led not only a Super Club but a Provincial Union for such a long period speaks volumes about his ability as a leader, businessman and sporting administrator,” Cass said in an NZR media release.

Riach will leave the Crusaders at the end of August and take up the role as CEO of the Ashburton District Council.

Hamish Riach established the Super Rugby CEO standard

Entering the role when Super Rugby had only been in existence for five years, Hamish Riach embraced the role’s need for professionalism. He began by studying other successful sports franchises; NFL, EPL and others, to discover the fundamental strategies and ideals.

All Black captain Richie McCaw (R) with Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach during the 2013 Steinlager Rugby Awards at SkyCity Convention Centre on December 5, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Riach has also been blessed with talent. Canterbury are the production line of NPC (provincial rugby championship teams) and of course, towards All Blacks level. Having elite athletes like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter meant that he also needed to be at the forefront of contract negotiations.

Hamish Riach instigated the first ‘sabbatical clause’ for Carter. One which McCaw used and ones that unfortunately interrupted Super Rugby contracts. A quantifiable release, as it extended the career of both men. The relationship between organisation and player-agents was a role he led in. Fortunate to be surrounded by many of the best rugby coaches in recent memory; Wayne Smith, Robbie Deans and Rob Penney (to name just a few).

Under his leadership, the CRFU maintained longstanding advantages that Canterbury Rugby still holds. Multiple Air New Zealand/ITM/Mitre 10 Cup titles line the rugby headquarters…as well as many, many Ranfurly Shield reigns.

“I am incredibly fortunate to have been in this role at the Crusaders for the last 17 years,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “I have loved seeing this organisation develop and evolve, and it has been a privilege to work with so many talented and passionate people.”

One of Rugby’s most effective Leaders

Leadership in rugby, but also in the community too. The Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach was involved in the fast-tracking of the stadium rebuild. And while that was a necessary design, in the last years he has been active in seeking the renovation and upsizing of an multi-use Christchurch Stadium.

If Riach, and the foundation administrators of the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby, can leave behind, it is that the entire franchise is people focused. Success comes from the base up, and the culture was developed through the leadership role of people like Hamish Riach.

New Zealand Rugby, and the sport has benefitted while he has been an agent for positive change in the game. He was one of Rugby’s most effective Leaders.

 

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