Rugby’s position in New Zealand is such that when the All Blacks suffer so does the wider society and even the economy.
It is little wonder then that the countries recent series loss at home to Ireland has had a wide-reaching effect on the country.
Starting at the top where two senior All Blacks coaches in John Plumtree and Brad Mooar were relieved of their duties.
Their former boss Ian Foster is currently fighting to keep his role as head coach, with a two-test series in South Africa to come the future of this All Blacks set up hangs in the balance.
Foster’s former boss the legendary Steve Hansen has come to the defence of his former understudy.
Speaking to Tiva O’Brien of New Zealand’s Today FM, Hansen said that “The New Zealand Rugby Union are not doing their job properly”.
Hansen made note of the reviews that the NZRU have continually made with regards to the All Blacks, Black Ferns and U20 coaching teams.
Former All Black head coach Steve Hansen has offered his thoughts on who is responsible for the All Blacks’ form slump. https://t.co/FkOLc9uVbJ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 28, 2022
As Hansen notes they have not looked inward rather laying the blame at the feet of the coaches and players.
“The relationship between the board and the [executive] with the players at the moment is probably the worst it’s ever been.
“I don’t think they are doing their job right at the moment.
“There have been a lot of reviews of [ex-New Zealand women coach] Glenn Moore and Ian Foster on their coaching ability recently but when was the last time the NZ Rugby Union did a review on itself? Our high-performance department at the moment has to be squirming about our record at Under-20 level.”
Speaking about the countries U-20s, he correctly notes they are no longer the dominant force in that age category.
“We haven’t won a tournament. We started off with the Under-20s in 2008, we won the first four and we won in ’15 and ’17. Since then, we’ve finished seventh and fourth and England and France have dominated the tournaments. Are we getting that side of our business, right? I don’t think so.”
Defending his former assistant, Hansen lent his full weight of support for the man he oversaw the winning of a World Cup title.
“I think all good coaches go through adversity in their career and we’re seeing that now with Ian Foster.
“He won’t be happy with how things have gone of late but I don’t think the issue is just inside the team. I think there are bigger issues than that.
Clearly there are few better positioned to discuss Fosters coaching ability than someone who worked so intimately with him.
“I’m probably sitting in the seat best to be able to quantify whether he is a good coach or not, because I coached with him for 16 years at the highest level. He is a very good coach.
“I don’t think the issue is just inside the team, I think the issue is bigger than that.
“It’s not acceptable to write or say things on social media that are cruel, nasty, malicious, spiteful, vicious…straight out bullying really.
“It’s the world we live in now with trolling. There’s no care or consideration of the person you’re writing about or their family. I can guarantee you that the people doing it had it done to them they’d melt away in the corner. We’re better than that in New Zealand but, unfortunately, we get emotional.”
The NZRU have remained tight lipped so far on Hansen’s comments, as the All Blacks prepare to take on the Boks in their own backyard you can be sure this is not the end of the story.