Super Rugby Pacific: New Crusaders coach Rob Penney wasting no time filling Scott Robertson's boots

Rob Penney may have the unenviable task of replacing Scott Robertson at the Crusaders, but the new head coach of Super Rugby's modern juggernauts has quickly made his mark at Christchurch.   

Over the past seven years, Super Rugby across three separate competition formats has known nothing but dominance from the Crusaders, who lifted a title every season Robertson was at the helm

Through Super Rugby, Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby Pacific, no side will likely be able to match what Robertson achieved.   

Now, the next step has come, as Robertson succeeds Ian Foster as All Blacks head coach and sees Penney - his former mentor - replace him. 

Rob Penney as Canterbury coaches.
Rob Penney as Canterbury coaches. Photo credit: Photosport

"Rob's fit in so well," said assistant coach James Marshall. "He's just come in, he's known what's expected of him.   

"He's not tried to change too much of the rugby stuff. He reminds me a little bit of Razor's dad, really.   

"He's got that same vibe about him, he loves the connections, he loves the theming, he loves all that sort of stuff. He's a really good guy, he's fit in really well."   

Penney played more than 100 games at provincial level for Canterbury, before embarking on his coaching journey as Crusaders assistant in 2005, helping guide them to a Super Rugby title under Robbie Deans.   

Robertson also worked under Penney for six seasons as an assistant coach with Canterbury, before replacing him in 2013 as the first step on his coaching journey.    

Now charged with making it eight titles in eight years for the Crusaders, Penney's methods have already seen him compared to his ex-student.   

He is already a familiar face to those in Christchurch, aided by a host of similar coaches making up the rest of his team.   

While Robertson took longtime assistant Scott Hansen from the Crusaders into the All Blacks with him, the likes of Marshall, Tamati Ellison and Dan Perrin have all remained with the Super Rugby powerhouse.   

Club icon Matt Todd has also returned to add to the familiar feel of a side looking to continue its winning dynasty.   

"There's a lot of continuity within the coaching group," said halfback Willi Heinz. "Obviously, Penns has come in, he's a fantastic man from the area.   

"It's great to see him get his opportunity with this group, but throughout the rest of the coaching group, there is a lot of continuity, guys who have been here for a long time. 

"Matt Todd has been a huge part of the rich tapestry of Crusader rugby. It doesn't feel like a completely fresh start.   

"There's a lot of great men that have done great things with this place for a long time. We're looking to build and grow."   

On Friday, the Crusaders will head north for cross-competition clashes against Ireland's Munster and England's Bristol Bears at the start of next month.   

That will serve as vital preparation for the upcoming Super Rugby season, beginning with a replay of the 2023 final, when the Chiefs host the Crusaders at Hamilton on February 23.