Rugby-Robertson commits to Crusaders until 2024

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has signed a new deal to stay in New Zealand with the Super Rugby franchise until the end of 2024, cementing his position as the most likely successor to All Blacks coach Ian Foster.

Robertson, the first man to win the Super Rugby title as a player and a coach, has enjoyed enormous success in Christchurch since taking over for the 2017 season.

The Crusaders have won a Super Rugby title in every year of his reign -- three in the traditional international format and the last two in the all-New Zealand Aotearoa competition -- on the back of a record of 71 wins, four draws and nine losses.

"I love this team, and I'm proud of what we've been able to achieve on and off the field over the past five seasons, for the people of the Crusaders region," Robertson said in a news release.

"The best is yet to come from this team, so I'm excited to confirm my coaching future in New Zealand."

The 46-year-old former loose forward, who led the New Zealand's Under-20 side to the 2015 world title, was beaten to the All Blacks job by Foster when Steve Hansen departed after the 2019 World Cup.

Foster posted only a 50% win record in his first season in charge, however, and will need to improve on that if he is to stay in the job when his contract comes up for renewal at the end of the year.

Robertson's decision to stay in New Zealand rather than take up lucrative coaching positions in Japan or Europe further solidifies his position as All Blacks coach-in-waiting.

"It's testament to Razor's commitment and passion for New Zealand rugby and the Crusaders that he has decided to continue his career on home soil, and we look forward to his continued contribution," said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Ed Osmond)

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