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'We'd be foolish to close our mind to it': Ian Foster on World 12s

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

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All Blacks head coach Ian Foster says the controversial World 12s proposal needs to be approached with an open mind before a decision is made on its feasibility.


The “radical” concept – backed by the likes of former All Blacks head coach Sir Steve Hansen, ex-Springboks boss Jake White and former New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew – was launched by ex-RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie earlier this week.

It has since dominated the talk of the rugby world as it has promised to be rugby’s equivalent of cricket’s Indian Premier League, with 192 of the best players from tier one and two nations set to be auctioned off to eight franchises for a three-week tournament to be held annually in August and September.

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TJ Perenara and Jordie Barrett named to start for All Blacks against Los Pumas
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TJ Perenara and Jordie Barrett named to start for All Blacks against Los Pumas

The first edition of the tournament is scheduled to be held in London, with the venue set to change each year.

Each of the franchise’s squads will consist of 24 players, with 12 players to take to the field in each match, and games are set to last for half an hour and will be played under numerous law adaptations designed to make the game easier to understand.

Furthermore, World 12s aspires to generate $500 million in next five years, which Hansen told Stuff could help limit the mass exodus of players from countries like New Zealand and Australia to financially-rich competitions in the northern hemisphere.

However, the proposal has been met with a mixed reception, with sceptics raising issues over player welfare, the tournament’s ability to gain access to players in the European leagues and the imminent scheduling clash with the Rugby Championship.


The latter concern directly impacts Foster given it could leave him bereft of his top players for at least a portion of upcoming Rugby Championship campaigns, but he told reporters on Friday that he remains open to the World 12s concept.

“Obviously we’re hearing about these things and have been thinking about it for a while,” Foster, who worked as an assistant under Hansen in the All Blacks coaching set-up between 2012 and 2019, said.

“It’s like everything in the game. Whenever a change is proposed, it often seems too radical and too far-fetched to work.

“There are a lot of reasons why it doesn’t seem to fit, certainly doesn’t seem to fit from a timetable perspective from my view in terms of the Rugby Championship, but, also, I think we’d be foolish to close our mind to it.


“If it’s a radical new idea that could be good for our game, then it’d be good to get around a table and have a chat to see how it could work.”


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