Crusaders centurion and absolute rugby legend Ryan Crotty has signed with the franchise for the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season. How epic.
Crotty played his last game for the Crusaders in 2019 before heading to Japan to play for the Kubota Spears. He was coaxed back to Christchurch by a mix of family and rugby connections.
“I have so much love for this team, it’s hard to put into words how much it means to me,” Crotty said of returning to the South Island and his home turf. He was spotted training with the Crusaders late in the ’23 season, and fronted for Canterbury 2023 Bunnings NPC, playing nine matches towards the side’s finals berth.
“Japan was great, a really good experience, but it felt like time to come home. Young family life, you know, it’s so precious to spend more time with the kids – they didn’t travel with me to Japan for that last season, so I’m hugely grateful to be here,” Crotty said.
To give perspective to the return of Ryan Crotty, Crusader #134, the 2009 team he debuted with included Brad Thorn, Kieran Read, Colin Slade and Richie McCaw.
He debuted a year before Sam Whitelock, Crusader #142, and Dan Perrin, current Crusaders forwards coach, stands alongside Crotty on the Roll of Honour as Crusader #135.
“Christchurch and the Crusaders are home for me and I’m just really excited to reconnect with some special friends,” he said.
There were still plenty of familiar faces around Rugby Park, Crotty said, both on and off the field. Matt Todd, locked in as Crusaders Assistant Coach for 2024, shared the field for most of Crotty’s 152 caps, while the likes of Mitch Drummond, Sevu Reece and Codie Taylor all played with Crotty for years.
He captained the team for a number of games in the 2014 season and was named vice-captain alongside Matt Todd in 2017 – Razor’s first year coaching and the first of the Crusaders current seven-title streak.
Rob Penney, Crusaders Head Coach, said Crotty was “a great pro and legend of the club” who will undoubtedly play an important part in the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.
“He decided the coals were still burning hot for another campaign, and we were of course very enthusiastic about him coming back into camp,” Penney said.
“His knowledge, his experience, his passion for this place – it’s boundless. He’s been a cornerstone of this place for a long time, helped to form the culture we have here, and is a leader both on and off the field.”
And so here we are – 2023 and Crotty is back in the team. The 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season is looking bright with this guy around – Crusade On!