Champion Kiwi coach appointed to run Crusaders Rugby Academy at University of Wollongong

Experienced Kiwi rugby coach Simon Kneebone has been appointed head coach of the Crusaders Global Rugby Program, which will launch at the University of Wollongong in February 2021. 

The program will see aspirational rugby players from around the country spend 20 hours a week training with Kneebone in the Crusaders program, while studying at either the University of Wollongong or its affiliated college. 

Kneebone most recently coached the Seattle Seahawks to a Major League Rugby premiership in 2019 and has vast experience coaching young and developing athletes. 

While in Christchurch, Kneebone led the Canterbury U19s to a national title and coached the New Zealand Maori U18s. 

“Simon is a very experienced coach, with an innate understanding of how we coach at the Crusaders to get the best out of athletes,” Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said. 

“His technical and tactical knowledge will be of great benefit to the programme, and his broader rugby knowledge-base will make this program truly world class – the level the Crusaders demand every day.

“With particular expertise developing age-grade rugby players and teams, Simon’s skills align perfectly with the focus and intent of the Crusaders International Academy Global Rugby Program.”

Crusaders International Academy Manager, Grant Keenan, will oversee the program with Simon, and said he is looking forward to getting the 2021 intake on the grass and into the classroom for the start of the first semester.

“This program is two years in the making, and we are so excited to have Simon confirmed to lead our first year intake at the University Of Wollongong. His connection to the club and our coaching identity was a critical factor in the decision to appoint Simon and we know he will create a high performing environment at UOW with the support of the University.”

Kneebone said he was thrilled to be part of the launch of a program that had a focus on both rugby development and education.

“I am extremely excited to have been appointed to represent the Crusaders International Academy and look forward to helping create a world-class high performance rugby environment in partnership with the University of Wollongong.

“I am passionate about working with young people, developing their capabilities and creating opportunities for them to excel. This truly is an amazing opportunity for players to attend a world class rugby program and gain a world class education at the same time, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge to bring the best out in these young players,” Mr. Kneebone said.

Applications for 2021 are still open, with the program set to begin in February next year.