Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been overlooked by critics as the greatest international coach in rugby history.


British rugby critic Stephen Jones has instead picked former Wales coach Warren Gatland and ex-England mentor Clive Woodward – both of them also former British and Irish Lions coaches – as joint number ones in a feature for The Times.

Hansen wasn’t even ranked second.

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Instead, Jones ranked Hansen behind Woodward, Gatland, another former Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan and Saracens’ Irish coach Mark McCall to place fourth.

Jones hinted to the All Blacks’ bronze medal result at last year’s Rugby World Cup as the reasoning behind his pick.

“He may have run out of steam at the end but he has been bold and imaginative,” Jones wrote.

“Until recently he had kept New Zealand ahead of the pack, hardly ever bothered with what others thought was the best way to play and won so many games in such style.”


Jones said Hansen could not be ranked above Woodward.

“Sir Clive picked up a team with no infrastructure that was going nowhere. Hansen picked up the All Blacks when they were already world champions.

“Woodward’s philosophies are still being embraced by head coaches and imitators alike”.

Meanwhile, former England and Lions first-five Stuart Barnes plumped Hansen in a more honourable second place.


He ranked Carwyn Jones – who coached the Lions to a series victory over the All Blacks in 1971 – as his number one.

“From 2013 to 2016 he coached the greatest team of them all. It’s hard to big up the Kiwi coaches because the players arrive so well prepared. But Hansen took them to a whole other level from the 2011 World Cup winners that Graham Henry steered. Hansen, the No 2, stepped up and became one of the great No 1s,” Barnes said.

Barnes had Woodward as his third choice, and Gatland fifth.

This article first appeared on and was republished with permission.

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