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Xavier Rush to be appointed Defensive Coach

10th July 2012

Cardiff Blues can confirm that Number 8 Xavier Rush is to take up a role as Defence Coach with the region following his retirement from playing rugby

Rush suffered an injury to his neck in the Heineken Cup quarter final match against Leinster, in April and has been advised my medical experts to retire from playing.

The former All Black joined Cardiff Blues from the Auckland Blues in 2005 where he had enjoyed a very successful period as captain, winning the NPC title, Ranfurly Shield and clinching the Super 12 title.

The Kiwi powerhouse was an instant hit with the fans with both his aggressive attacking play and leadership qualities being appreciated by all. Rush was named as The Supporters’ Club Player of the Season in his first year in Cardiff and was made captain of the Cardiff Blues in the summer of 2006.

Speaking at Cardiff Arms Park, where he made his debut on the 1st of October 2005 against Saracens, Rush said,

“I’m really looking forward to the new role and working under Phil Davies.”

“He’s an experienced coach in his own right and just in terms of the chats we’ve been having I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot.”

“I look forward to working alongside him and the staff there already.”

“Rugby has been a massive part of my life and I think I have a lot of experience within the game.”

“Obviously coaching is a different skill-set and one that I will have to learn and learn quickly but I look forward to developing some youngsters and being part of a game that I dearly love.”

“There’s some good talent amongst the loose forwards in the Blues.”

“Luke Hamilton did very well with the Wales Under 20’s, Andries Pretorius has been out for a while with injury and I know he will be dying to get back on the pitch.”

“Also Ellis Jenkins is a young kid with a very bright future so there’s some good talent coming through the Academies.”

“There was a group of players that moved on which is part of the cycle of any rugby team but I’ve been hugely encouraged by what I’ve seen of these young players.”

Speaking of his injury Rush added,

“I’ve got a problem with a disc in my neck which has caused me loss of power and strength in my right arm.”

“I sustained the injury out in Dublin in the Heineken Cup quarter final match and the medical team advised me to retire.”

“I’d like to thank all the medical and conditioning staff who have been superb with me not only with this injury but over the years as well.”

“It’s not really sunk in that I won’t play again because it’s the off season.”

“When the boys kick off back down at the Arms Park then I think reality will hit and I’ll miss being out there with them.”

“This would have been my 17th season and I would have been a professional rugby player for as long as I haven’t been a professional rugby player, so it’s going to take a bit of getting used to.”

“I joined in 2005 and I’ve absolutely loved my time at the Blues. From what I remember we struggled a bit for the first couple of years but whenever we played at the Arms Park we played a lot of passion and commitment.”

“Over the seasons the squad became better and we became competitive in the Celtic League and also within Europe.”

“It was great being part of that transition and there have been some fantastic memories along the way.”

“The semi final of Heineken Cup, winning the Amlin Cup and the EDF Cup was great”

“The game in Marseille was a game that a lot of us will treasure but there have been a lot of good games along the way, we’ve had some good wins against Toulouse, but also a few hidings down there to balance it out,” joked Rush.

“The Welsh are great supporters and to play in front of them at a full Arms Park will be memories I’ll always treasure.”

“I think there were only about a thousand fans in Wasps and Toulon but they sang and it lifted you.”

“From what I hear many will come to the Arms Park which is great.”

Speaking of Rush’s retirement from rugby and his new role at Cardiff Blues, chairman Peter Thomas said,

“Unquestionably back in 2005 when Xavier came on the radar we knew we would have very stiff competition to obtain his services.”

“It was when Gareth Edwards, David Young and Bob Norster visited South Africa, where he was playing on a tour at the time that convinced him Cardiff Blues would be the place to come.”

“That was supported by Graham Henry who said to him ‘there is only one club you want to go to and nobody will look after you better than the Blues.’

“The record will show he has undoubtedly been the most outstanding overseas recruit we have ever had.”

“He brought a level of professionalism, both on and off the pitch, which was of the highest standard possible.”

“He was captain of the side for three years and he is major figure for all the academy and development players.”

“He has that Kiwi edge and that has rubbed off on all the players in the Blues.”

“Nobody trains harder than him and nobody’s standards are higher than his and he has just been amazing player.”

“He has the will to win.”

“If you remember when we won the Amlin Cup we had to play three of our last games away, Newcastle, Wasps and Toulon.”

“The weather conditions at Wasps were horrendous but the high balls he took and the way he led from the front, he just stood head and shoulders above everybody on the field that day.”

“It was his determination as a professional player to succeed that was so instrumental in not only us getting to the final but also winning it.”

“The very fact that there is a role that secures his involvement with the Blues for the next two seasons I think is fantastic.”

“He has that Kiwi edge and has level two coaching and is currently going for level three and four.”

“His support to Phil Davies and the boys will be unquestionable.”

“I know he will bring to the coaching role what he brought to his player role, he is there to win.”

“He has that fighting edge which he will bring to all the youngsters like Andries Pretorius and Josh Navidi.”

“All the back row forward players will have no finer teacher than Xavier Rush.”

Former Cardiff, Wales and Lions scrum-half Gareth Edwards who sits on the Cardiff Blues board of directors added,

“Cardiff Blues at the time were looking for quality players and also leaders.”

“The name that came to the fore, from contacts I have all over the world, was Xavier Rush.”

“At the time he had been capped a couple of times for New Zealand and had that reputation we were looking for.”

“David Young, Bob Norster and I discussed at length what type of person we wanted at the Blues and Xavier filled that role.”

“We went out to South Africa to see him and there was no question that he was the right person, with the right personality to contribute as a leader and player to Cardiff Blues.”

“Xavier has proven this throughout his time with the Blues.”

“He has a balanced outlook on the game and played the game like all New Zealanders, with tremendous commitment.”

“His contribution to the Blues has been there for all to see, he has been captain of the team and man of the match in so many games.”

“He has also been a great mentor to younger players.”

“I am particularly saddened that his playing career is over but in the same breathe I am delighted that he is going to continue as part of the Blues in the new coaching role.”

“Xavier will be able to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as that New Zealand edge he has.”

“His level of commitment and preparation has not waivered in the time he has been here.”

“In a number of matches he has been the man who has completely changed a game and I remember so many highlights from his career."