Super Rugby: Crusaders boss Hamish Riach calls time after 17 years

The days of Hamish Riach climbing the stairs at Crusaders HQ are drawing to a close.

"I take a great deal of satisfaction that, over 17 years, there haven't been too many years of abject failure," reflects the departing chief executive, who has masterminded a period of sustained excellence over that time.

Riach has been in charge since taking over from now-NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew in 2001 and for a while there, championships were hard to come by.

"We were that close, so it never occurred to me that we wouldn't get back there, because the bounce of the ball was going to go our way at some point," he says.

After a title drought from 2008-17, the breakthrough coincided with former All Blacks and Crusaders flanker Scott Robertson taking over from Todd Blackadder as head coach, which was a surprise selection for many at the time.

"We didn't see it as a risk," insists Riach. "He is a very good rugby brain and he connects people superbly well."

During his tenure, Riach has had to navigate his way through tragic and turbulent times, with the biggest being the 2011 earthquake.

As the city reeled from the 6.3 jolt that claimed 185 lives, the Crusaders continued with their campaign, but were forced to play every game away from home. Riach was a key figure behind the temporary stadium that replaced Lancaster Park.

Super Rugby: Crusaders boss Hamish Riach calls time after 17 years

He' also been an ardent supporter of Christchurch getting its very own indoor facility, like Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.

"I'm as confident as I've ever been since the earthquake that the new stadium is going to happen," he says.

Riach will leave next month to become chief executive of the Ashburton District Council.

He says the time is right for change. Win or lose this weekend, he has no regrets.

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