Kieran Crowley quits as Canadian men's rugby coach

Two weeks after agreeing to a two-year contract extension, Kieran Crowley has resigned as coach of the Canadian men's rugby team.

Recently agreed to 2-year extension

Kieran Crowley took over the national team in 2008, leading it to two World Cups. (Christophe Ena/The Associated Press)

Two weeks after agreeing to a two-year contract extension, Kieran Crowley has resigned as coach of the Canadian men's rugby team.

Rugby Canada confirmed that the former All Black is leaving. A source said he is taking over Italian club team Benetton Treviso.

Francois Ratier, coach of the Canadian women's team, will serve as interim men's coach at the Americas Rugby Championship which kicks off next month.

Crowley agreed to a two-year contract extension on Dec. 22 on the recommendation of Rugby Canada's World Cup review committee. The review came with some stipulated changes to the national program but Crowley had seemed enthusiastic about remaining in charge.

The 54-year-old New Zealander was named Canadian coach in 2008, leading it to two World Cups.

Crowley, who played 35 matches for New Zealand from 1983 to 1991, succeeded Canadian Ric Suggitt whose contract was not renewed.

He inherited a team ranked 15th in the world. Almost eight years later, he leaves a team ranked 19th.

Despite that drop, Canada has made strides. Other countries, which unlike Canada have professional leagues, have simply progressed further.

Crowley's international ties also helped several Canadians find work with pro clubs overseas.

Prior to coming to Canada, Crowley spent five years as coach and four years as assistant coach of the New Zealand provincial side Taranaki. His contract was not renewed at the end of 2007.

'He also coached New Zealand to the IRB world under-19 championship in 2007, defeating South Africa 31-7 in the final in Dublin.

Crowley was the 848th player to be capped by the All Blacks, for whom he scored 316 points in 19 Tests and 16 non-Tests. His record with the All Blacks in Test matches was 14-4-1.

As a player for Taranaki he played 200 times, retiring in 1994. From 2001 to 2003 he was a selector for the All Blacks, including the 2003 World Cup under then coach John Mitchell.

Mitchell was named coach of the U.S. national team earlier this week.

Benetton Treviso is currently bottom of the Guinness Pro 12 standings with an 0-11-0 record. The league features teams from Scotland, Wales, Italy, Ireland and Northern Ireland.


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