Friday, 7 December 2007

Luckiest man alive

Congratulations to Graham Henry for achieving his greatest ever victory - his reappointment as All Blacks head coach.

Quite how the NZRU arrived at this decision is a tad baffling. With the likes of Robbie Deans chomping at the bit to have a go it's not like there was a shortage of quality candidates. But no, it seems that producing the worst All Blacks Rugby World Cup campaign in history (after having been given carte blanche to do things his way) was deemed sufficiently impressive to give Henry another crack at the job.

A few things to note:

  • with New Zealand hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the pressure on Henry will now be relentless;

  • I suspect that the New Zealand Media will not give Henry an easy ride over the next few months, let alone the next few years; and

  • I can't imagine that the NZRU will allow Henry quite the freedom he has enjoyed in the past

It's also worth mentioning that, after presiding over an unsuccessful Lions tour to Australia in 2001 Henry buckled under the pressure of the Wales job - it will be interesting to see how he'll cope with the additional scrutiny that his failings this year will bring. One thing I do hope is that his 2007 experiences will mean that Henry won't be quite so sanctimonious in his preachings to the rugby world at large.


Anonymous said...

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chuck d said...

Re: "Quite how the NZRU arrived at this decision is a tad baffling."

While I am also surprised by the decision based upon previous failed AB RWC post-mortems, the answer is hardly baffling.

Even if you include NZ's dreadful WC appearance, Henry still maintains the highest W-L percentage in All Blacks history - I think we might agree they have a fairly long and successful history, so the stat is hardly insignificant - and Henry clearly has the best record of ANY international coach the past four years, including Andy Robinson and Jake White.

That is beyond dispute. Look at the NZRU trophy cabinet. The WC is missing yes, but everything else is there.

Moreover, Henry has finally admitted he made mistakes. Managers in any field with a substantive record of successful results who own up to mistakes and make promises to improve, are difficult to part with, especially when the board (the employers) approved of- and shared in the blame of those same mistakes (ie. reconditioning program, rotation policy).

Henry is a failure only for those whom believe the RWC comprises EVERYTHNG and all the matches played in the intervening four years means nothing.

Real rugby fans know better. (At least the ones that haven't taken too many knees to the head.)

Last comment, Pot. Meet. Kettle. If Henry really is as "sanctimonius" as your sanctimonious slapdown makes him out to be, then what's to say he doesn't have a right to be? (If you've got a C.V. that's comparable, then let's hear it. Or are opinions reserved for keyboard typists in mommy's basements exclusively?)

Fact is, the 2007 RWC is already regarded, and will be long deemed, as having been the most boring and least creative rugby played in the professional era. (Akin to ice hockey's "neutral zone trap," it's a borefest.)

Henry is well within his right to voice the bleeding obvious, because the way rugby is played today currently stinks, it is unattractive and sure to lose supporters and players at the grass roots level. It's not just Henry stating the obvious: if it were otherwise, the IRB wouldn't be desperately trying to plug holes amending laws with the new ELVs. Is the IRB being sanctimonious by stating the bleeding obvious here too?

Heck, NZ is losing Union fans to League. That's progress? Sorry, but Henry and the NZRU are in the business of tryng to protect and preserve rugby union in their nation (what many Kiwis and Aussies these days disparage as "Rugby Yawnion") and if that means playing positive attractive rugby and saying as much, and if that means being sanctimonious, then perhaps it's time the rest of us could use a little sanctimony and try making the game as good as it can be.

Moreover, if you honestly believe that international rugby will survive with test matches played without the best players; if you think that supporters and sponsors and neutral international television audiences will schedule their calendars around tours and matches when they know the visiting team is deliberately withholding their best players back at home; if you honestly believe this IRB structure to be the positive future, direction, promotion and growth of international rugby union, then I concede you are entirely within your right to revel in the status quo and believe Henry sanctimonious.

Total Flanker said...

Blimey - looks like your cage is well and truly rattled!

If you are happy with the NZ being the best team in between World Cups that is of course your choice.
I'm more than surprised though that you failed to mention that the true reason for the All Black's failure was that horrible pom referee.

And, for the record, my mother doesn't have a basement, although I'm more than happy to concede that I may indeed have taken one too many knees to the head :)

Sportsfreak said...

The 2007 All Black team was not a patch on previous years; I’d go as far to say it was the worst All Black side since 94. Note how the loss in Melbourne mirrored the Cardiff result. In proper tests it was a 2-2 record.

But the “review” was a total sham. First they told us the World Cup was everything (justifying butchering this year’s S14) now they’re saying he’s judged on the 4 years, and World Cups aren’t that important anyway. Totally Orwellian.