They've been home to the likes of Richie McCaw, Keiran Read and Sonny Bill Williams.
Now, Super Rugby powerhouses The Crusaders have their eyes set on finding the next big talent right here in Wollongong.
The Christchurch club - which has won 10 Super Rugby titles, including the last three straight - announced on Thursday that it would partner with the University of Wollongong to offer a Player Development Program.
Applications will open in March 2020 for the program to begin on campus in 2021. Successful applicants can undertake a UOW degree while being mentored by some of the Crusaders' best coaches.
This initiative will be similar to the program that UOW has established with English Premier League club Tottenham Spurs, which gets under way in February.
Crusaders chief executive officer Colin Mansbridge said the UOW was an "outstanding organisation" and "we were really impressed with what they've done with the Spurs".
"They've been talking to us for close to 12 months and they talked to a number of clubs about doing a similar thing. When they talked to us about actually adding academic qualifications to building elite athletic capability, it was a no brainer for us," he said.
"It's exciting to get out of Christchurch and out of the top of the South Island. It grows our perspective as well. I don't think there's any rule that says you must [only] connect in your own town so we want to make sure we're as connected as we proudly can be. We do work in Japan and in the US because it helps us get better as well.
"We grow every time we get some feedback."
I don't think there's any rule that says you must [only] connect in your own town.Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge
UOW's Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Global Strategy, Professor Alex Frino said rugby union was a "little underdone in the region and could use some help".
"Part of the reason we decided to look at a second sport was because of the success of the Tottenham program," he said.
"We partnered with one of the biggest football clubs in the world and now we're partnering with indisputably the largest rugby franchise in the world. Given how successful our football program was, there was no doubt we could do something to help out in a rugby space.
"I believe the Crusaders have enormous know-how into producing outstanding rugby players. If we think about the All Blacks, the Crusaders are the nursery for the All Blacks. They've produced more All Blacks than any other club in the world.
"We'll work very closely with the Crusaders over the next 12 months to finesse the detail of the program. I think it's going to provide an enormous uplift to rugby know-how in the region."
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