Crusaders get Zim director

JOHANNESBURG - Natalie Thain, a New Zealand business woman and former Zimbabwean swimmer, has taken over as the new board director at the Crusaders.

Crusaders chairman Murray Ellis has stepped down from the Crusaders board and is retiring after fifteen years on the board and seven as chairman.

He said he continued to be passionate about the Crusaders and it was not easy stepping aside from something that had been such a big part of his life for many years.

“It has been an honour to serve on this board and as the Crusaders chair.  We have faced significant change in the time that I have been involved, and I am proud of the contribution I have been able to make in helping to steer the Crusaders through those challenges.

“When I was last reappointed as chairman, this time last year, I chose to take just a one year term.  With that term drawing to a close and the assurance that we had a high calibre of candidates for the role, I chose not to seek any reappointment to the board,” Ellis said.

“Natalie Thain is a highly experienced and successful businesswoman who has a lot to offer the Crusaders. I am sure she will be warmly welcomed into the organisation,” Ellis said.

“I wish her and all of the other board members the very best for the years and challenges ahead.”

Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach paid tribute to Mr Ellis’ contribution, saying he has been a stalwart of the organisation who has brought stability and vast experience to the board.

“Murray has given so much to the Crusaders, particularly as Chairman over the last seven years.  We are grateful for his commitment, passion and wise counsel and he will be sorely missed,” Riach said.

Natalie Thain brings wide business and elite sporting experience to the board.  As director and principal of business consultancy Three-Sixty Consulting Ltd, along with her other board and governance experience, she has developed a high level of commercial skill and experience in risk management, stakeholder engagement, building organisation capability, change management and alignment of people with strategy.

"Having been a competitive athlete in my youth [swam for Zimbabwe and won a swimming scholarship to compete in the United States] and now with my business background, I have a real understanding of the unique environment under which professional and high performance sport must operate, both commercially and performance wise," she said.

Thain said she is looking forward to getting around the table with the other Crusaders board directors.

“This is such an experienced board with incredible knowledge about rugby and a diverse and impressive range of commercial skills.  It is an honour to be appointed to this board and I look forward to making a valuable contribution by bringing my own experience and perspectives to the table,” Thain said. – Rugby365

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