Hansen slams World Rugby
REACTION: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has laid blame for the plight of Pacific Island rugby on the unwillingness of World Rugby to stand up to the Six Nations and institute a global season.
Hansen raised eyebrows with a stinging attack on the international governing body a day after his side demolished Tonga 92-7 in Hamilton.
The veteran coach said lip service continues to be paid to the development of rugby in the Pacific Islands, where there is a rich supply of talented athletes but no framework to improve.
On the eve of the World Cup in Japan, Hansen lamented the failure of World Rugby to get its proposed Nations Championship off the ground earlier this year.
The proposal, in which the leading northern and southern hemisphere nations would come together in a round-robin style format, was ultimately rejected by the Six Nations, with members were protective of the commercial status quo and wary of the ramifications of promotion-relegation.
Hansen said in an ideal world, the likes of Tonga would no longer face such a threadbare program of Tests.
“The problem that we’ve got is a calendar that doesn’t allow you to do that,” Hansen said.
“We have these wonderful ideas about growing the game but we don’t have an organisation at the top that wants to be strong enough to say ‘righto, this is what we’re doing, we’re going to have a global season.
“The Six Nations rule world Test rugby programs. They don’t want to give that up and until they’re prepared to give that up, we’re not going to see any progress in that area.”
Hansen felt for Tongan counterpart Toutai Kefu and other Pacific Island coaches, who have a small window to work with their players, many of whom are only reluctantly released by their European clubs for international duty.
“It’s really difficult [for me] when your players play for five different franchises in New Zealand,” Hansen said.
“So I can only imagine how difficult it would be when your players are playing all over the world and you’re bringing them back and you don’t have much time to prepare them.
“Whatever happened yesterday, [Tonga] will get way better by the time they get to the tournament.”