Rare Super double on offer for Todd Blackadder
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has a chance to go where no man has gone before him in the Super Rugby annals.
The 42-year-old former All Blacks skipper could become the first person to captain and coach title-winning teams.
Blackadder guided the Crusaders to the first three of their record seven championship victories, the first coming in 1998 when they beat the Blues, 20-13 at Eden Park, breaking the Auckland-based franchise's hold on the title.
Blackadder endeared himself to the entire top of the South Island region by making a post-game speech acknowledging the team represented Nelson Bays, Marlborough, Buller, West Coast, South Canterbury, Mid Canterbury and Canterbury.
He was also at the helm for the first and only all-South Island final, when the Crusaders beat the Highlanders at Carisbrook in 1999, in a match dubbed Party At Tony Brown's Place.
Blackadder's last title as captain came in 2000 after a frozen final in Canberra when a Ron Cribb kick-and-gather try and five Andrew Mehrtens penalties earned them a one-point win over the Brumbies - and clinched Blackadder's recall as All Blacks captain.
But the Silver Fox left New Zealand's shores at the end of the 2001 season after captaining Canterbury to NPC glory. He had a playing and coaching stint with Edinburgh in Scotland before returning home to take up a director of rugby post at the Tasman Rugby Union.
It was a full-circle return for the former backrower turned lock who made his first-class debut as an 18-year-old playing for Golden Bay club Collingwood.
Blackadder was appointed to the Crusaders head coaching job in 2009 after his former Glenmark clubmate Robbie Deans departed to coach the Wallabies.
The Crusaders have made the playoffs every season on Blackadder's watch and were beaten finalists in 2011, the year they were forced to play every ''home'' game away from Christchurch after the catastrophic Canterbury earthquakes.
Tomorrow night is Blackadder's chance to set the ledger straight and join former mentors Deans and Wayne Smith as champion Crusaders coaches.
THE BIG SHOW
Tomorrow's Super rugby final in Sydney is the Crusaders' 11th in the last 16 seasons since 1998.
Played 10 Won 7 Lost 3. Points for: 237. Points against: 207.
ROLL OF HONOUR
7 finals: Robbie Deans (5 wins, 2 losses)
2 finals: Wayne Smith (2 wins, 0 losses)
1 final: Todd Blackadder (1 loss).
4 finals: Richie McCaw (3 wins, 1 loss)
3 finals: Todd Blackadder (3 wins, 0 losses)
3 finals: Reuben Thorne (1 wins, 2 losses)
Most Winners' Medals
7 - Reuben Thorne.
6 - Greg Somerville,
4 - Caleb Ralph.
2 - Mark Hammett, Casey Laula, Dan Carter.
DID YOU KNOW?
* Tomorrow's game is the third time the Crusaders and Waratahs have met in a final.
* The Crusaders have won both matches in 2005 and 2008.
* Three Crusaders players are backing up from the 2005 match - Richie McCaw, Corey Flynn and Dan Carter. The Waratahs have one - Stephen Hoiles.
* Five current Crusaders played in the 2008 title winning team - Carter, McCaw, Kieran Read, Andy Ellis and Wyatt Crockett. The Waratahs also have five survivors, backs Rob Horne and Kurtley Beale and forwards Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson.
CRUSADERS FINAL RESULTS: (legend: conv: conversion. pen: penalties. dg: dropped goal).
1998: beat BLUES 20-13 at Auckland. (James Kerr, Norm Maxwell tries, Andrew Mehrtens 2 conv, 2 pen). Coach: Wayne Smith.
1999: beat HIGHLANDERS 24-19 at Dunedin. Afato So'oalo, Daryl Gibson tries, Andrew Mehrtens conv, pen, dg. Coach: Wayne Smith.
2000: beat BRUMBIES 20-19 at Canberra. Ron Cribb try, Andrew Mehrtens 5 pen. Coach: Robbie Deans.
2002: beat BRUMBIES 31-13 at Christchurch. Caleb Ralph 2, Marika Vunibaka tries; Andrew Mehrtens 2 conv, 3 pen, dg. Coach: Robbie Deans.
2003: lost to BLUES 21-17 at Auckland. (Mark Hammett 2, Caleb Ralph tries, Andrew Mehrtens conv). Coach: Robbie Deans.
2004: lost to the BRUMBIES 38-47 at Canberra. (Richie McCaw, Aaron Mauger, Brad Thorn, Chris King, Casey Laulala, Dan Carter tries; Carter 4 conv. Coach: Robbie Deans.
2005: beat WARATAHS 35-25 at Christchurch. (Scott Hamilton, Dave Hewett, Leon MacDonald, Caleb Ralph tries; Dan Carter 3 conv, 2 pen, Aaron Mauger dg). Coach: Robbie Deans.
2006: beat HURRICANES 19-12 at Christchurch. (Casey Laulala try, Dan Carter conv, 4 pen). Coach: Robbie Deans.
2008: beat WARATAHS 20-12 at Christchurch. (Mose Tuiali'i try, Carter 4 pen, dg). Coach: Robbie Deans.
2011: lost to the REDS 13-18 at Brisbane. (Dan Carter try, conv, 2 pen). Coach: Todd Blackadder.
Which 2015 NZ Super Rugby team looks best?