Gilkison likely to take over from Riach at CRFU

Tim Gilkison is poised to be a major mover within the Canterbury Rugby Football Union with Hamish Riach vacating the chief executive's job.

With Riach, previously the CEO of the Crusaders and Canterbury, switching to the Super Rugby franchise, Gilkison is expected to be promoted from amateur rugby manager to a management position title along the lines of general manager. If appointed, he will still likely be supported by Riach, who will continue to be involved with the CRFU, albeit in a more low-key role.

The CRFU didn't externally advertise Riach's vacant position - unlike the Crusaders high performance leader job, which has yet to be filled since Steve Lancaster joined Rugby Canada in December.

Lancaster's replacement is also likely to be involved with running the CRFU's professional arm.

In December Riach shifted to the sole position of Crusaders CEO when the New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed a regional consortium will operate the franchise under a new licence arrangement.

Having separate bosses of Canterbury and the Crusaders has long been considered logical because it diminishes suggestions of a conflict of interest.

The new arrangement should also appease the smaller provinces who have a stake in the Crusaders licence.

In the past they have not always been enamoured with the situation of the Crusaders and Canterbury being led by the same person.

Gilkison, who will continue to focus heavily on running the province's amateur branch, told The Press "nothing has been confirmed at this point" about his proposed role, but an announcement is expected soon.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders interim board, set up following the approval of the new licence, has been pared back to six members. Garry Lund and David Rhodes recently stood down, while South Canterbury's Stephen McFarlane lost the race against Tasman's Nick Patterson for the sole position of the smaller provinces' representative.

Rhodes has been replaced by CRFU board member Grant Jarrold. West Coast coal mining magnate Brent Francis, who is underwriting the Crusaders under the new licence agreement, has been appointed as an independent.

Murray Ellis, Karl Smith and CRFU chairman Stew Mitchell have retained their positions and Ellis is expected to be returned as interim chairman. The Crusaders' next board meeting is on February 19.

"This interim board is just to keep us going through this campaign," Ellis said.

A new board will be appointed after the Crusaders' financial year ends in August. An appointments committee of former CRFU chairman David Rhodes, NZRU board member Graham Cooney and Christchurch accountant Gill Cox will oversee this procedure.

Rhodes, along with another long-serving member, Dennis Connolly, will also step down from the CRFU board at the annual meeting on February 18. The CRFU are also set to declare a small profit for 2012, a turnaround from the operating loss of $563,000 the previous season because of the earthquakes.

The Press