All Blacks about to see sense and appoint a coach that will make them dangerous again
The most coveted job in rugby is up for grabs.
It was announced this week that current All Blacks head coach Ian Foster will not reapply for the role following the conclusion of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Foster has held the position since 2019, when former head coach Steve Hansen stepped down in the midst of the fallout which stemmed from the Kiwi’s disappointing semi-final defeat at the hands of England.
Under the stewardship of Foster, the All Blacks aura of invincibility has slowly eroded, a time period which has seen the Kiwi’s lose three out of four tests to Andy Farrell’s Irish side, and also their first ever test defeats against Argentina.
After last summer’s series loss to Ireland, the All Blacks responded by claiming yet another Rugby Championship title. However, a second defeat to Los Pumas and a schooling by the Springboks meant that the pressure continued to pile on Foster.
The former Waikato Chiefs player was not happy with the timing of this week’s announcement by New Zealand Rugby, but has said that “he will accept the decision and move on”.
Scott Robertson, the man who lost out to Foster during the last recruitment process for the role, has emerged as the leading candidate to take over the most pressurized coaching job in international rugby.
Having led the Canterbury Crusaders to a record-breaking six consecutive Super Rugby titles, it is perceived that Robertson has both the pedigree and reputation within New Zealand rugby to fix the erratic form which has plagued the All Blacks since the 2019 World Cup.
Robertson, just last summer spoke to his desires to ascend to the arena of test rugby, stating in an interview with the RugbyPod that “It would be great to win a Rugby World Cup with your own country which I want to do, that is the foremost thing but I would also like to do it with another country - not sure what order it might be”.
A former All Black himself, amassing 22 test appearances as a back row, Robertson also possesses a number of links to Irish shores, having worked under former Munster head coach Rob Penney and also employing former Ireland fly half Ronan O’Gara as his assistant coach for the 2018/19 Super Rugby season.
Despite being the betting favourite to succeed Foster, the Crusader’s head coach has already been overlooked once before for the All Blacks head coaching role, with the strongest competition on this occasion coming from Japan head coach Jamie Joseph.
Joseph, who played test rugby for both the All Blacks and the Brave Blossoms, coached Kiwi club side Highlanders to their sole Super Rugby title in 2015 before leading Japan to an historic quarter final appearance at the 2019 World Cup.
Joe Schmidt, a man remembered fondly by Irish rugby fans, is an outside contender having assumed an assistant coaching role with the All Blacks last year. However, speaking in 2021, he appeared to rule himself out of seeking another head coaching gig in international rugby due to family commitments; “Look. I will be massively frank, I love the All Blacks because as a Kiwi kid growing up that’s what you want to be and that hasn’t changed at all. But I aspire to be a really good dad If I can be, and when I stepped away from coaching, that was my aspiration.”
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