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'It wasn't us' - All Blacks react to Rugby World Cup spying drama

By Ian Cameron
Jean-Pierre Farandou CEO of SNCFtalks to the media as the New Zealand All Blacks squad arrives at Gare de Lyon on September 06, 2023 in Paris, France. New Zealand face France in the opening match of Rugby World Cup France 2023 on Friday September 8, 2023 (Photo by Glenn Gervot - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has denied any knowledge of the Rugby World Cup’s so-called spying scandal, never mind New Zealand having anything to do with it.


Earlier this week The Telegraph reported that a leading tier one country had approached World Rugby for clarification around potential sanctions being brought against a side should they be found spying on another team.

The press put the question to Foster on Wednesday, with the All Blacks boss quickly booting the question into touch.

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“No, I haven’t heard of that. It wasn’t us. Was anyone spying on us? I guess it’s ‘Welcome to the World Cup’. It’s that simple. There’s lots of pressure on, people react in different ways. It’s an exciting time, everyone is looking for an edge. I’m not sure where that’s coming from. I’m pretty confident we’ve been training alone, but who knows?”


Spying in rugby union is nothing new, with the issue raising its head over the years in the sport and is frequently a talking point at Rugby World Cups. Back in 2019, then England head coach Eddies Jones had security posted around their Pennyhill Park training pitch prior to the Six Nations, and it’s an accusation that is often levelled at teams from Test level right down to schoolboy rugby.

“Around 20 years ago it(spying) was quite common when there wasn’t much vision around so you used to send coaches out to have a look at the opposition and put them with hats on and all sorts of things,” said Jones at the time. “That used to go on but I haven’t seen much of it of late because there is such an abundance of vision you can get on teams you don’t really need to do that.”

Sir Clive Woodward went to extraordinary lengths to keep his training ground runs secret during the successful 2003 World Cup campaign and while he was in charge of the 2005 British and Irish Lions.


While Foster seemed non-plussed with the news, Wales head coach Warren Gatland said he wasn’t surprised.

“I am not surprised that concerns have been raised about spying ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup in France,” he wrote in his Telegraph column. “As a head coach you are always suspicious that your training sessions might be being secretly recorded, particularly when you are playing away from home.

“We use drones to film our own sessions, but it is hard to be sure that there are no other drones monitoring from long distance. The technology in cameras now is such that you could probably be a couple of miles away and able to discreetly film training away from security.”



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