Coach recommits as 'Canes look to the future
Wellington - The Hurricanes celebrated their break-through Super Rugby championship win Sunday with confirmation coach Chris Boyd will be staying on for the next two years.
The New Zealand franchise which lived for 20 years with a reputation for being the team that never fulfilled its promise, finally claimed the trophy with a 20-3 win over the Golden Lions from South Africa on Saturday.
They scored the only two tries of the match against a Lions side that wilted towards the end and paid the price for taking the Jaguares too lightly in the final game of the regular season.
A point in that game would have seen the Lions host the final, and while coach Johan Ackermann will have to live with outcome of playing an under-strength side then, he can take credit for taking a team to the finals that was considered not good enough for Super Rugby three years ago.
As the Hurricanes celebrated, the most relieved man was coach Boyd, who had been haunted by last year's final when they started as hot favourites against the Otago Highlanders and lost.
They were favourites again to beat the Lions with the homeground advantage while the South Africans had to make the tiring journey to Wellington from Johannesburg via Australia.
This time, with a resolute defence and the tactical astuteness of flyhalf Beauden Barrett, there was no mistake.
"I couldn't have faced another loss at home," a relieved Boyd admitted.
"It took me, personally, months to get over losing last year's final."
Boyd moulded a champion team this year -- which did not concede a try in the play-offs -- despite losing World Cup winning centres Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith and All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrush at the end of last season.
The perfect rebuild had New Zealand rugby critics adding Boyd's name to the list of possible replacement for Steve Hansen when he steps aside as All Blacks coach after the 2019 World Cup.
"He's just an outstanding rugby coach," Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee told Radio Sport when confirming Boyd will stay with the club for another two years.
"People talk about all these amazing international rugby coaches around the world, but Chris Boyd, I have so much respect for him as a guy and as a coach."
Boyd deflected any praise of himself to the team.
"This side developed a great character and a great attitude amongst themselves," he said.
"We've had good self belief and good self trust and it's carried us a long way."
For the Lions there was the consolation of knowing they had fought their way back into the competition and within three years were finalists playing a New Zealand-style attacking game.
Ackermann said their success could lead to other South African teams departing from their traditional emphasis on forward play.
"There's talks about that style, the coaches are thinking, and if we're a small part in that direction then we're grateful for that," Ackermann said.
"I think it's possible. We've got the skill at all the provinces, there's a lot of talented players."
Although the Lions could not cross the Hurricane's line in the final they topped the try-scoring ladder for the year with 81 followed by the Waikato Chiefs with 76 and then the Hurricanes with 72.