Ian Foster has been retained as All Blacks coach following a New Zealand Rugby [NZR] board meeting on Wednesday.
Foster’s position has been the subject of huge speculation following an inglorious start to 2022, which included a 2-1 series loss to Ireland on home soil.
But the weekend’s 35-23 victory over the Springboks came at just the right time, with NZR now set to back Foster through to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
He will be further supported by former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who will take on a more “hands on” role as well as his place as a team selector.
NZR chairman Stewart Mitchell and chief executive Mark Robinson fronted the media alongside Foster on Wednesday, the trio declaring it the start of a “new era” for the All Blacks.
“I feel good about the confidence that I’ve got from Mark (Robinson) and Stewart (Mitchell) in terms of supporting both myself and the group,” Foster said.
“I think we’ve got our leadership and our senior players at a point that is probably as strong as I’ve seen them in recent years, and they want to own it. And that’s a massive part of where we need to go, so they’re pretty good foundation points.”
What the decision means for the future of Crusaders coach Scott Robertson remains to be seen, with the six-time Super Rugby-winner having already flagged his intention to coach two countries at various World Cups.
Robertson remains under contract with the Christchurch-based team and NZR.
“We have a huge regard for Razor as a key part of the coaching landscape in this country and and we hope he has a great future in the game here,” Robinson said of Robertson.
“But today’s not really about Razor. Today’s about Ian and his team into this new era.”
Foster had received strong backing from the All Blacks playing group in recent days, with veteran scrum-half Aaron Smith and star flanker Ardie Savea among those to show their support publicly.
The decision to retain Foster will also see Sam Cane continue as captain, the All Blacks skipper enjoying his best game for some time in the weekend’s victory over South Africa.
That’s my coach 🖤 pic.twitter.com/c4hOr51q8b
— Aaron Smith (@Te_Nug) August 14, 2022
Foster had come in for huge criticism both for the team’s slump down the world rankings — to an historic low of fifth before the second Test against the Springboks — and for some of his team selections, particularly during the series loss to Ireland in July.
His winning rate sits at 69 percent as All Blacks coach — the lowest of any New Zealand coach of the professional era — while the team have suffered losses to each of Australia, Argentina [for the first time] and France, as well as Ireland and South Africa, during his tenure.
The All Blacks’ next assignment comes against the Pumas on August 27, before they face the same opposition again a week later.
They then round out their Rugby Championship campaign with Tests against the Wallabies in Melbourne and Auckland which double as the Bledisloe Cup series, a trophy New Zealand has held since 2003.
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