All Blacks make huge call on World Cup coaches

Ian Foster will keep his job as All Blacks coach after the New Zealand Rugby board voted unanimously in favor of the status quo on Wednesday.

NZR chairman Stewart Mitchell announced the decision at a press conference alongside Foster and chief executive Mark Robinson.

Foster had been under immense pressure following a historic series loss to Ireland but snapped a three-game losing streak with Sunday’s upset victory over the Springboks.

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“I want to absolutely emphasize that both Ian Foster as head coach and Mark as CEO have full support from the board,” Mitchell said.

It was also announced that Joe Schmidt will have an official coaching role with the All Blacks, focusing on the team’s attack through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

The former Ireland coach had already been working as an All Blacks selector and adviser.

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“Joe Schmidt has been on my radar for a couple of years,” Foster said.

“We’ve now decided to move him from the computer room to put him on the park a bit more.”

Robinson – who gave a bizarre press conference on Sunday – admitted NZR had made some mistakes but said the organization had a “huge amount of confidence” in the All Blacks under Foster’s watch with Schmidt’s increased support.

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“He’s (Schmidt) a world class coach that’s had success in everything he’s been in.”

The decision to stick with Foster will not be popular with the majority of Kiwis.

A Stuff poll after the Springboks win found that 73 per cent of voters still wanted change.

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Breakdancing Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was the popular alternative while Schmidt and former Wales and Lions boss Warren Gatland were other options.

Foster has made no secret about the personal toll that the saga had taken on him but struck a defiant tone in the press conference.

“I tell you who we’ve got the most support from the last month, it’s from ex-All Blacks from the 2007-2009 group of players, who have actually been through periods with the All Blacks where things haven’t gone that well ,” Foster said.

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“And it’s been fantastic the support we’ve had from the older All Blacks who know what it’s like to go through a bit of a trough and when you’re making changes and rebuilding a little bit.

“I think that’s really empowered our current group who haven’t been used to the sort of adversity that we’ve had.

“It’s felt foreign. And so, we’ve all wanted to roll our sleeves up and fix it.”

Foster became coach in 2019 after previously serving as an assistant to Steve Hansen.

The former Chiefs coach has guided the All Blacks to 17 wins in 26 Tests for a 65 per cent success rate, the worst by a New Zealand coach in the professional era.

Robinson called the win at Ellis Park the start of a “new dawn.”

“We’ve seen significant evidence of growth and change in a short amount of time. Ian’s been really decisive about the way he viewed the performances against Ireland.

“He identified the things he believed needed to change in a short amount of time to improve. Sure, we want to win every game,” Robinson said.

“There’s no hiding from that. As this team grows and develops and the things get put around it from a management point of view, we certainly think we’re on an upwards trajectory.”

Foster’s appointment in 2019 was not particularly popular with All Blacks fans.

Robertson was a more charismatic candidate, already with a successful record at Super Rugby level.

Foster coached the Chiefs from 2004-11, finishing 10th in both of his last two seasons.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie took over from Foster at the Chiefs and won the Super Rugby title with the club in each of the next two years.

The All Blacks now will face Argentina in Christchurch on August 27 in their first home Rugby Championship Test of the season.

“I understand the pressure on my role,” Foster said.

“When you lose a series people hurt. My job is to put context about it and make decisions about how I can improve that going forward. Now I’m pretty excited about going down to Christchurch and giving these players a chance.” – with Associated Press

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