This match “proves that the All Blacks empire is collapsing”, a writing in the daily The New Zealand Herald, attests to the “overwhelming evidence of the sad decline” of the men in black. In fact, it’s the first time the New Zealanders have lost back-to-back games at home to a European side since France’s 1994 tour.
Suffice to say that the sky has darkened enough in the land of the long white cloud. Something to sound the general alert to bounce back before the World Cup organized in France (September 8 – October 28, 2023). “The All Blacks’ performance in this series was clearly not acceptable,” New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson said in a statement on Sunday.
If the teammates of captain Sam Cane, strongly reprimanded during this tour for performances deemed mediocre, even insufficient, are the subject of criticism, coach Ian Foster, appointed in 2019 to succeed Steve Hansen at the end of the World Cup (3rd place), is he on an ejection seat. The extension of his contract, in August 2021, until the World Cup-2023, had already been disputed.
Foster’s record at the helm of the Blacks fuels the debate. In 24 matches, he conceded seven defeats for a draw and sixteen wins, a ratio of 66.7%, when his previous Graham Henry and Hansen exceeded 80%. By way of comparison, Graham Henry, coach from 2004 to 2011, had lost seven in 53 test matches and Hansen, the same number, in 89!
“Our aim is to work with Ian (Foster) and his team to fully understand, before the Rugby Championship, what we need to improve performance and what to do from now on. We will begin this work immediately,” explained Mark Robinson.
The urgency is in order because the New Zealanders will start their next season with two tests on the ground of the South African world champions on August 6 and 13. Not only has New Zealand now fallen to fourth place in the world rankings, unworthy of its status as the flagship nation of rugby and a first since its establishment by World Rugby in 2003, but it is no longer scary.
In November, during a tour of Europe, she had been defeated in quick succession by Ireland (29-20), already, then France (40-25). In their last five outings, the All Blacks have only won once, in the first test match against XV du Clover (42-19) on July 2 in Auckland. It was in the absence of Foster, affected by the Covid-19, and who had appointed himself the interim to the former coach of Ireland, Joe Schmidt.
Saturday after the game, Foster declined to discuss his future. “I’m only here to talk about the game,” he said. Earlier on Sunday, a press conference by the New Zealand coach was canceled without explanation. The 57-year-old technician will probably have to explain himself in the coming days to the Federation’s board of directors.