NZ Rugby boss refuses to endorse Ian Foster in bizarre press conference

Publish Date
Monday, 15 August 2022, 9:26AM

By Liam Napier

New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson has refused to endorse Ian Foster's future as All Blacks head coach.

A matter of hours after the All Blacks' dramatic 35-23 response at Ellis Park snapped their three-game losing run, Robinson fronted media via Zoom in a bizarre press conference where he outlined Foster's future will be determined once the team arrives home early next week, but offered no other insight into the likely outcome.

During a 20-minute press call Robinson was asked a number of different ways whether Foster will remain in charge for the All Blacks next Rugby Championship test against Argentina in Christchurch in two weeks, and whether Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and his team are on standby.

With each deflection, Foster's tenure became more undermined and seemingly less likely to continue.

Once the All Blacks arrive home, they are scheduled to reassemble in the Garden City on Sunday, leaving little time for NZ Rugby to sit on its hands.

Robinson, possibly constrained by employment law process, began by praising the inspired All Blacks performance against the Springboks in a hostile atmosphere but with each probe he left Foster further in limbo.

"We believe we know where we stand and just got to work through it," Robinson said.

"At this point the main priority is to get everyone home. We will then take stock, meet with management as soon as we reasonably can after getting home and debrief how the tour went and where we see things.

"We'll be making no further comment until that time which is likely to be the middle to latter part of this week."

Confirmation of a New Zealand Rugby board meeting to determine Foster's fate was, perhaps, the strongest indication a change of All Blacks management could be imminent.

"There will be a board meeting at some stage," Robinson said. "The board is ultimately responsible for the appointment of the coach. That's to be determined in terms of timing."

Robinson acknowledged the sustained scrutiny had been tough on Foster.

"These have been hugely challenging times right the way through the last few weeks. There's no doubt about that. There's a huge amount of passion and speculation and expectation around the team and the organisation. We need to take the time to make sure we've got the team set up for everything it needs to be successful."

Robinson witnessed the Ellis Park triumph and attended last week's defeat in Mbombela. He also attended All Blacks training in Johannesburg and spoke with senior players after the upset victory over the Springboks that lifted the All Blacks from their lowest ranking of fifth in the world to fourth.

Despite his looming call on Foster's future, Robinson claimed the pair remained on positive terms.

"We were in the sheds together last night so I had the opportunity to congratulate him and the team. Last night there was a meal and we were seated together for a bit which was great. I'm really pleased for Ian and seeing him being able to reflect and enjoy a special result like that.

"There's been no issues of any kind in regards to Ian and my relationship.

"He's had the support of New Zealand Rugby and that remains. We just need to work through this period to understand where the next steps are with this management team."

Prior to Sunday's stunning transformation at the home of South African rugby the All Blacks had lost five of their past six tests – a period that included their first home series defeat in 27 years.

Foster's assistant coaches, John Plumtree and Brad Mooar, were removed after the Ireland series defeat despite re-signing through to the 2023 World Cup, with Crusaders forwards guru Jason Ryan coming on board.

While Ryan has injected a major impact on the forward pack, that may not be enough to save Foster's tenure.

"We're incredibly proud of the group, they've been through an awful lot. For the team, management and organisation it was an incredibly pleasing night. We all saw a number of improvements around the game.

"To win in such adversity under such challenging conditions in a stadium like that was really pleasing. This is a performance team so any aspect of performance is considered when we're going into the kind of conversations we're having."

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission


Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you