NZR backs under-fire All Blacks boss Ian Foster
SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand Rugby [NZR] has thrown its support around under-fire All Blacks head coach Ian Foster following a dismal end to his side’s test campaign.
The All Blacks finished their season with back-to-back defeats at the hands of Ireland and France in Dublin and Paris, respectively, leaving them with a record of 12 wins and three losses for the year.
The other defeat came in the second test against the Springboks last month following a last-gasp victory over the South Africans the week beforehand, meaning the All Blacks won only one of their four major tests in 2021.
Their 12-3 record is the team’s worst since 2009, and the pressure from the public has piled up on Foster following his two most recent losses as support swells for Crusaders boss Scott Robertson to take charge of the New Zealand national side.
However, NZR’s head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said the union are sticking by its man as he said Foster has the backing of his employers.
“We’re incredibly appreciative of the efforts that our team has gone to,” Lendrum said, as per RNZ.
“It’s a tour like no other, long and arduous and there are learnings to be taken out of those weeks.
“But we support Foz [Foster] and the team and we are just looking forward to getting them home and getting into the work that we need to do so we can improve next year.”
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) November 21, 2021
Lendrum’s comments come as the All Blacks’ annual performance reviews, to be conducted by the team itself and NZR, beckons on the horizon.
Those reviews are scheduled to take place once the All Blacks exit MIQ two weeks after their return to New Zealand and will be finalised before the beginning of next year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
“We look to match those two [reviews] together. We focus on environment, performance and people and work through a review process where we essentially get a 360 degree review and 360 degree feedback on our key people,” Lendrum said.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) November 22, 2021
Robertson, who missed out on the All Blacks job to Foster after the 2019 World Cup despite guiding the Crusaders to unprecedented success in Super Rugby, rebuffed questions about the performance of his fellow NZR employee on Monday.
“With the All Blacks stuff, I will leave my point of view private property. They are hurting at the moment, I have got my opinions on it, but it is probably not the right time to express them,” he said following the announcement of the 2022 Crusaders squad.
“Look, I observe like everyone else but I will hold my judgment on it.”
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Despite leading the All Blacks to their worst season in 12 years, Foster – who now has the second-worst win rate (71.4 percent) of any All Blacks head coach in the professional era – remains adamant his side is improving.
“When you look at the overall year and you look at what we have achieved I think, when you look at the context, that there has been quite a significant growth from last year,” he said following the loss to France on Sunday [NZT].
“I think if you look at this year, it is a year that some teams haven’t played many test matches and the southern hemisphere teams have played a lot of test matches.
“We’ve played more than we’ve ever played. We’ve won 12 out of 15 – South Africa lost five tests, Australia lost about seven tests.
“I know that we get judged harshly, but if I reflect on the year, we’re making progress. We’ve got a good brace of players that we’re growing, but we’re also learning some tough lessons at the end of this long season.”