Hansen blasts New Zealand Rugby board

Rugby

Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has blasted the New Zealand Rugby board following the All Blacks shock series loss to Ireland in June, labeling the relationship between the board and All Blacks players “the worst it’s ever been”.

Speaking on New Zealand radio with Today FM’s Tova O’Brien on Thursday morning, Hansen came out firing following weeks of fierce public backlash against the All Blacks and their coach Ian Foster, while NZ Rugby has remained largely quiet.

“They’ve come out and aired all their dirty washing in the front part of the property rather than out the back,” Hansen said. “So their job [NZ Rugby] is to run it with strength and leadership but in a way that you’re going to look after the people that work for you.

“Otherwise, you’ll end up with a high turnover of staff which I think that they’re having at the moment.

“So, the relationship between the board and the exec and players at the moment is probably the worst it’s ever been.”

Hansen stated there was a lack of transparency and a disconnect between the board and the players and questioned why there hadn’t been a review into the board despite the many reviews they’ve instigated on coaches including Foster and former Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore, who quit months out from the women’s World Cup.

“I don’t think they are doing their job right at the moment.

“There have been a lot of reviews of [former Blacks Ferns coach] Glenn Moore and Ian Foster on their coaching ability recently but when was the last time the NZ Rugby Union did a review on itself? Our high performance department at the moment has to be squirming about our record at under-20 level.

“We haven’t won a tournament. We started off with the under-20s in 2008, we won the first four and we won in ’15 and ’17. Since then we’ve finished seventh and fourth and England and France have dominated the tournaments. Are we getting that side of our business right? I don’t think so.”

Taking control of the All Blacks between 2012 and 2019, Hansen oversaw what he said was the most successful All Blacks period ever and thinks the issues within NZR date back years ago, pointing at the process of bringing in US investors Silver Lake as one of the major issues.

“The way they handled the new money scheme….[former chairman] Brent Impey came out and just absolutely roasted the players with no consultation,” Hansen said.

“I don’t think they’re doing their job right at the moment. You’ve got a group of eight All Blacks captains coming out and forming a group and went and spoke to them, and ‘Kirky’ [David Kirk] is in the paper the other day saying they don’t feel they were listened to.

“So let’s start there and let’s get that right. If you look back to when we were really successful from about 2010 through to 2019, which was our most successful era, the board and the exec at the rugby union were humming.

“There was complete togetherness and connection was with the actual All Blacks team.”

Hansen was also scathing of the handling of former CEO Steve Tew, who was “forced” out of his position in 2019 following the World Cup.

While he believes current boss Mark Robinson “was going to be a good CEO”, he questioned why the board would make a move that would see two inexperienced people in the top two positions with Foster taking over as All Blacks head coach.

“I think he [Robinson] is up to the job but you’ve got to remember, he’s just in the job,” Hansen said. “So you’ve got a new head coach, you’ve got a new CEO… why New Zealand Rugby Union let Steve Tew, or forced Steve Tew to go at the same time as I finished in 2019 so they had two relatively inexperienced people running the ship, I can’t fathom.

“Again, that’s a board decision. Mark Robinson is going to be a good CEO, however… everyone is into Sam Cane about his captaincy… I remember in 2007 Richie McCaw was the worst captain we’ve ever had according to the media and public, well he went on to become the greatest captain we’ve ever had.”

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