Canterbury building connections with US rugby
New Zealand rugby's growing ties with the United States have further strengthened with the Crusaders lending a hand to Colorado State University.
America is seen as the next market to crack, highlighted by the All Blacks playing a test against the US Eagles in Chicago on the way to Britain for their end of year tour. New Zealand rugby has a sponsorship giant in New York-based AIG.
And now Canterbury and the Crusaders are getting in on the act.
Crusaders assistant coach Tabai Matson will head an upcoming camp for aspiring American players and coaches at the university in Colorado.
Canterbury Rugby and Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach says it's an opportunity to help promote and build the game in an emerging market like the USA.
"Rugby has been growing in popularity in the US since rugby sevens became an Olympic sport. It is a great time for us to be building connections over there and helping to foster some young talent," Riach said.
Rod Hartley of the Colorado State University rugby club said they approached Canterbury Rugby and the Crusaders because they are two of the most successful rugby organisations in the world.
"The Canterbury rugby team is the most successful provincial team in New Zealand and the Crusaders are the most successful team in the Super Rugby competition. We are thrilled to be able to bring someone like Tabai Matson, who has been involved in both teams as a player and coach, to share their experiences and knowledge with us," Hartley said.
Matson said he had a wide brief for the camp that runs in Fort Collins from September 19-21.
"We will be covering all aspects of professional rugby, from what it takes off the field to be a professional athlete to the skills that are needed on the field to succeed, based on Crusaders principles and methodologies. I'm sure there will be plenty for me to take out of it as well," Matson said.