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Tana Umaga calls out 'bandwagon' All Black fans for treatment of Foster

By Kim Ekin
Ian Foster, Head Coach of New Zealand, and Richie Mo'unga of New Zealand celebrate victory at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Ireland and New Zealand at Stade de France on October 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Former All Black captain and legendary midfielder Tana Umaga has expressed his disappointment at how head coach Ian Foster has been treated as support for the All Blacks grows after their quarter-final win.

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After losing back-to-back Tests to end 2021, the All Blacks lost the home series to Ireland before another defeat to South Africa which left the All Blacks in a historically poor slump.

The pressure intensified around Foster and his job as head coach, eventually leading to his two assistants being replaced.

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Umaga said he felt for the embattled head coach is he wore the wrath of the public who are now trying to jump back on the bandwagon after the All Blacks 28-24 win over Ireland.

“There wasn’t a lot of expectation on New Zealand going into the game [against Ireland],” Umaga told the Official Rugby World Cup podcast.

“That’s even at home, I don’t think the public at home gave this Ian Foster-led team any hope of making it past this stage.

“A lot of things have happened back home. I have felt for Ian Foster and the way that he is not coming back next year. It’s not something we usually do.

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“Now we have got to this stage you see everyone is trying to clamber back onto the bandwagon. Obviously Fozzy was going to get us there and he’s got a lot of good people around him.

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“I had a thought for him, what he has been through. We love our national team, as does everyone, and they like to have a say about it and sometimes it is not the kindest words they use for our coaches.

“He went through a lot and I feel for him and his family who went through that.”

With Scott Robertson already announced as the next All Blacks head coach from 2024, Ian Foster stands in a unique position of being able to capture every piece of tournament hardware under his watch.

Despite the losses to key rivals, the All Blacks have not lost a tournament under Ian Foster, winning the Tri-Nations in 2020 and all three Rugby Championships in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

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Winning the Rugby World Cup would see Foster bow out as one of the most successful All Blacks coaches ever from the standpoint of winning big trophies.

The All Blacks face Argentina in the first semi-final on Saturday morning NZT and the winner of that contest will face either England or South Africa in the final.

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28 Comments
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Bob Marler 227 days ago

RP are also a bunch of clowns for randomly hiding/blocking/censoring/moderating comments.

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atawhai 268 days ago

I respect Tana. Hes a legend. And I agree the boot got put in to Fozzy, and the team, in unacceptable ways. But I’m not sure we want AB fans who never express disapppointment or criticise their team when they underperform. Because it's been hard! We're the same fans who saw the All Blacks suffer three-straight losses on home soil for the first time ever, after losing the Irish Series, and then the shock defeat at the hands of the Pumas (25-18) in Christchurch. We also saw the end of year collapse in the last 15 m to England which luckily for us resulted in a draw. This year the All Blacks suffered their worst-ever defeat ever - 35-7 against the Springboks at Twickenham. They also lost to France in the very first game of the RWC. I agree we need to stop the personalised attacks on players and the coach! But the Black jersey means too much to us all to not express legitimate disappointment and concerns..

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Utiku Old Boy 268 days ago

Disagree with Tana and it has nothing to do with “band wagons”. Foster’s record speaks for itself and regardless of final RWC results, new thinking is required at AB HC level - AND at NZR. It is also NOT dis-loyal to hold a coach and team accountable for prior results nor to choose not to renew a contract. The fact that this team played a blinder is great but is not the whole campaign. I think the mental gurus have this team cycling their celebration and building focus much better than the 2019 campaign but we have still not arrived. Also, Tana is not really an expert in coaching so while he is welcome to an opinion - no more than anyone else.

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AklBlues 268 days ago

Fully agree with Tana. The NZ rugby public are fickle in this regard. Alot of these comments are saying “if we win the World Cup, it will be because of Joe and Jason not Ian" how childish. They may not think themselves as bandwagons but i’m here to tell you all, you are. Nothing wrong with that either, but you are bandwagons. As for us loyal AB supporters who have been behind the boys from the start, we are backing them all the way. Can’t overlook the Pumas though. I know you bandwagons are, but us realists understand the threat they pose and it won’t be easy. I’m hoping for a Springbok v Allblack final, after that record loss we suffered against them at Twickenham. What did you lot have to say about Joe and Jason after that one bsndwagons? Oh that’s right it was all Ian’s fault😏 Fickle fans

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ruckaa 268 days ago

hey tana i respect you man so much like to me you are the shit man the real deal all in however foster was crap mate without jason and joe those changes brought about by public demand for fosters head have born the fruit of what we are seeing today oh yes i was on that bandwagon cheering hard and yes i would have held the axe to chop off his useless head(at the time before jason and joe) but i can tell you tana hand on heart when jason and joe were added i was stoked when jason said steely eyed dropprd EVERYTHING ELSE he was doing cause his country needed him and i always wanted joe smidt the prick who more than once outgurued us with Ireland no tana i knew we had more than an even shot now and the results /influence were immediate SA scrum getting shunted the maul getting better that twenty minutes of blistering attack against SA in the RC no my brother the new track that was being cut was easy to see for all new zealanders hence we are just one big happy family …. again we arent jonny come latelys “were forgettin about the last one get yourself another”

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B.J. Spratt 268 days ago

The New Zealand Rugby Public and the World have witnessed the “chaotic, incompetent and pathetic basket case that is the NZRFU.

I don’t like Foster as a coach. The way he was treated was the worst example of corporate management I have ever seen.

Stephen Hansen wanted Foster and was quite public about his views.

Then the way Graham Henry “influenced” the selection panel to block Scott Robinson was simply motivated by Hansen and Henry’s personal dislikes, nothing to do with the “outcomes he has achieved as a coach”

Then the Review of the NRFU which came out on the 30th of August 2023 is damning of an “Old Boy’s Network” that has operated in New Zealand for over 100 years.

“Not Fit For Purpose” was a damning description of the NZRFU

Tana’s hitting Chris Masoe in the face with a “Handbag” with such force it broke a cell phone in the handbag. Mind you Masoe cried.

I have never heard of “something” so weak as an Ex All Black Captain hitting a fellow player with a handbag.

Tana that takes the cake. There are millions of Rugby Fans in the World of all different personalities but I guarantee you are the only one that has “hit a player with a handbag”

Tana is in the NZRFU “Boy’s Club, and if he keeps his head down and doesn’t hit anymore players with a handbag or doesn’t wear make up in public he’ll be fine.

Remember Fans pay your salary, you cock.

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Shayne 268 days ago

If we win 🏆 it won't be Foster's doin, as good as the win was we just sneaked home. The prase Sam Cane got for just doin his job somes up last 4 years. Bandwagon ,bloody hell Tana what you on.

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Tristan 268 days ago

I will always support the AB’s, that doesn't mean blindly agreeing with everything to do with the team. I didn't believe that Fossie was the right coach and I still hold that opinion. It's a personal opinion and I'm allowed to hold/ express it. That doesn't make me a fair weather or disloyal supporter. I felt that we would be eliminated in quarters, I am over the moon to be proven wrong. Fossie and team have exceeded my expectations so well done. That however still doesn't change my opinion of the last 4 years.

Fossie is a professional coach with a fixed term contract. His results were not great. Any professional, results based organisation will review this. His contract was not renewed as his employer desired better results and believed that a change would deliver this.

If the AB’s win RWC'23 then Fossie can stick two fingers up at me and many others, I sincerely hope he ends up in that position. Please prove me wrong, either way I will still be an All Blacks fan.

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Pecos 268 days ago

No Tana, the bandwagon got climbed back on when Jase Ryan & Joe Schmidt joined the coaching team & turned things around. The ABs would’ve got here quite easily without Foster, maybe faster.

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johnz 268 days ago

Credit where it’s due - that was a phenomenal performance in the QF. As kiwis we demand a lot of our Rugby team, we are quick to criticise when it’s not performing and quick to praise when they deliver what we have come to expect as normal. While criticism can be harsh - arguably it’s the high standards that we demand as a nation that keeps us near the top. But let’s not get too carried away, in four years of Foz you could pretty much remember 2 great performances, once when his sack was imminent and the other on the weekend. AB rugby has been built on consistency - not one off affairs.

I would argue the things Umaga points out as unfair are the things that have turned this tenure around. The threat of the sack brought adversity which has pulled the team together. Foster was forced to find two new assistants to save his job, both have done amazing work to counter the clear lack of tactical and strategic nous beforehand. The fact Foz doesn’t have a job next year has clearly focussed his mind. Prior to that, Foz was coaching like he had all the time in the world, tweaking this, tweaking that, dithering along with no clear direction. I know from myself there’s nothing quite like a deadline or the threat of negative consequences to focus the mind. Prior to this, Foz had the same employer his entire career and rose from within. He’s never experienced an environment with consequences for underperformance until now.

So yeah, perhaps we are too harsh as a nation but the huge criticism has been an obvious catalyst for the change that was needed. That said and done, we are happy to praise good performance when it’s deserved, so let’s jump on that bandwagon.

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