The race to be the next coach of international rugby’s most successful team came to somewhat of an anticlimactic end on Wednesday, with Ian Foster anointed as the new top dog.


Foster beat out Scott Robertson, who has coached the Crusaders to three successive Super Rugby championships.

Foster, who has spent the last eight years as Steve Hansen’s right-hand man, has been viewed as a relatively safe pair of hands; he’s a man who has spent ample time on the international scene honing his trade and is unlikely to make any radical changes.

Still, Foster has promised that it won’t just be more of the same.

“It’s been eight years with the All Blacks, I’ve learned a lot. But I need to take my own ideas,” the former Chiefs coach said.

Continue reading below…

Video Spacer

“Now is the time for me to show what I have. That I’m innovative and to show that we have that mana that we feel we might have lost on the field.”

The reception to Foster’s appointment has been mixed.

Perhaps it was the loss to England at the World Cup, perhaps it’s Foster’s championship-less tenure with the Chiefs, or perhaps it’s simply a thirst for change – but the possibility of Robertson injecting his ideas into the national side had many All Blacks fans salivating.

Robertson, despite having plenty of experience in New Zealand, however, has yet to show his wares on the international stage.


Since the sport went professional in 1996, just one All Blacks head coach hadn’t already had experience in the coaching set-up of a national side.

This factor almost certainly would have counted against Roberston.

In many ways, the best outcome for everyone involved would have seen Foster and Robertson working together, letting Foster take the reins but also allowing one of New Zealand’s most promising coaches of the last decade to develop his abilities with the expectation that he would eventually take over.

Was this an option that Foster would have ever considered?

“I think we’re two head coaches,” Foster said on the matter.

“When it comes to your coaching group, to me it’s really important you get people that are right for the job and that are happy with the seat they have on the bus.”

That definitely implies there wouldn’t be room for both Foster and Robertson in the same coaching set-up – there’s no quicker way to ruin a successful sports team than to have two people in charge who both want to be top dog.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) also didn’t want to influence the coaching teams presented by Foster and Robinson. The abilities of the individuals within a coaching team are obviously important, but there has to be some harmony between the individuals too.

“(Foster and Robertson) had a lot of time to think about and put their teams together,” said incoming NZR CEO Mark Robinson, who was on the selection panel for the coaching role.

“We signalled to them the things that were going to be important, in terms of those teams, but we certainly didn’t want to force marriages on people that weren’t meant to be.”

No doubt, an arrangement between Foster and Robertson was one that may have intrigued NZR, but not one they wanted to force upon the candidates in question.

In the end, we’re now left with a situation where Foster takes over as the man in charge of the All Blacks while Robertson will continue to lead the Crusaders.

It’s hardly a bad position to be in – though there will be an understandable fear that Robertson will table plenty of offers from foreign clubs now that the All Blacks coaching role is out of the question for at least the next two years.

As exciting as it would have been to see Ian Foster and Scott Robertson team up for New Zealand, too many cooks in the kitchen could well have spoiled the recipe that is the All Blacks’ continued success.

WATCH: Joe Schmidt, Ireland’s most successful national coach, has received plenty of criticism in the wake of his team’s unsuccessful World Cup.

Video Spacer

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now