MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rob Penney has been appointed Canterbury Crusaders head coach in a major resurrection following his sacking by the New South Wales Waratahs two years ago.
Penney, a former assistant coach at the Crusaders, will have big shoes to fill as he replaces Scott Robertson from August, the man who guided the Super Rugby titans to six championships in the past six seasons.
Robertson is departing the Crusaders to take charge of the All Blacks after the World Cup in France.
"The Crusaders franchise has a strong history and record of success and excellence, both in on-field performance and off-field culture, and I’m excited to immerse myself into the environment," 59-year-old Penney said in a team statement.
The Crusaders also announced former All Blacks flanker Matt Todd as an assistant coach, joining Tamati Ellison, Dan Perrin and James Marshall on Penney's staff.
A stalwart of Canterbury rugby, Penney coached the provincial side to four successive national titles from 2008-11, with Robertson as his assistant.
After roles with Irish club Munster and in Japan, the former New Zealand under-20 boss succeeded compatriot Daryl Gibson as head coach of the Sydney-based Waratahs in 2019.
The rebuilding Waratahs struggled in a COVID-19-affected 2020 season, finishing fourth out of five teams in the domestic Super Rugby AU competition that year.
After a 0-5 start to the 2021 championship, Penney was fired mid-season, finishing up with an overall record of five wins from 19 matches.
Crusaders board chairman Grant Jarrold said Penney stood out from other candidates for his "his maturity and his back-to-back success record."
"Rob impressed us with his leadership qualities, his experience, and his proven ability to innovate on and off the field," he said.
Penney is head coach of Japan's under-20 side and will take up the Crusaders role after the World Rugby Under-20 Championship starting this month.
The defending champion Crusaders host Fijian Drua on Saturday in the quarter-finals of Super Rugby Pacific as Robertson looks to bow out with another trophy.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Stephen Coates)