New Zealand Rugby will make a decision on the next All Blacks coach in the next “four to six weeks”, rejecting Ian Foster’s wishes that the process instead be carried out after this year’s World Cup in France.
NZR chairman Dame Patsy Reddy made the announcement on Wednesday morning, after weeks of ongoing discussion in the media and Crusaders’ coach Scott Robertson’s recent revelation that a decision on the process was imminent.
“Following wide-ranging consultation and after carefully weighing up all scenarios and the key lessons from 2019, New Zealand Rugby is now commencing a process for selecting the All Blacks Head Coach from 2024,” Reddy said via a statement.
“We appreciate these decisions are challenging as we try to find the balance between public scrutiny and high-performance expectations, within the need to safeguard our responsibilities and ensure we are prioritising conversations internally with our people.
“Until now, New Zealand Rugby has been reluctant to talk publicly about an appointment process for the All Blacks coach to protect the integrity of the process, and to minimise the scrutiny on the individuals involved. Recent events, however, necessitate some clarity.
“Noting the divergent views as to the best timings for this process and that neither timing window is perfect, out of respect for the people involved, New Zealand Rugby will not be making any further comment after today until a decision has been reached. This will be concluded in the next four to six weeks.”
Robertson and current Japan coach Jamie Joseph are understood to be the two frontline candidates for the role, with Foster recently saying he thought it was “highly unlikely” he would be the All Blacks coach next year.
Foster only last year earned a late reprieve to retain his job, after the All Blacks had lost a three-Test series to Ireland on home soil, and then dropped their first match of the Rugby Championship away to South Africa.
The current All Blacks coach had made no secret of his desire for NZR to hold off on a decision for 2024 until after the All Blacks’ campaign in France.
Ian Foster hasn’t got his wish, the All Blacks will open their coaching process for next season before this year’s World Cup Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images
Foster had expressed his concerns that the debate around who should, or would be, coaching the All Blacks next year could prove a distraction for his side later this year.
“Absolutely. I’m not trying to do anything overtly clever here, I’m just trying to express what the All Blacks head coach thinks of what’s happening here at the moment,” Foster told The Platform last week.
“It’s about my team. One of the All Blacks’ big rocks, values, call it whatever you like, that we have is that the team comes first and the decisions that we make is about the team and for me when I know that things are happening that are impacting on my group, my role is to poke my head up and I guess say what I think.
“I’ve sat quiet and I’ve toed the line listening to this conversation and debate and all my management is hearing is that other people are determining the timelines for what happens in this team.
“What I’m saying may not change a lot, but I’ve said what I thought and I guess I’ll be judged for that.”