NZ Rugby calls series loss to Ireland "not acceptable"

·3-min read

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — All Blacks head coach Ian Foster seems safe in his position for the moment though New Zealand Rugby on Sunday described the All Blacks' series defeat by Ireland as “not acceptable.”

Ireland beat New Zealand 32-22 in the third test on Saturday to win a test series in New Zealand for the first time and become the first team since Australia in 1986 to beat the All Blacks in a three-test series at home.

Foster was due to face reporters in a regularly-scheduled news conference on Sunday but the conference was cancelled without explanation. Speaking to reporters immediately after Saturday’s match, Foster refused to discuss his own position, saying he “just wanted to talk about this test match.”

Foster’s future as head coach has been the subject of speculation for some time as the All Blacks go through an almost record-breaking spell of poor form. Saturday’s loss was their fourth from their last five test matches, and their fifth against Ireland in their last eight test meetings.

The All Blacks’ only comparable slumps came in 1998 when they lost five tests in a row to strong South African and Australian teams and 1949 when an an under-strength All Blacks team lost all four tests in South Africa.

New Zealand Rugby was forced to respond Sunday to growling public criticism of the All Blacks form and direction under Foster. That criticism has become louder because New Zealand’s consecutive test match losses to Ireland come only 13 months out from the next World Cup.

A statement released after the cancellation of Foster’s scheduled meeting with reporters suggested he will continue as coach through this year’s Rugby Championship.

“Congratulations to the Irish team for their well-deserved win last night but clearly the performance across the series for the All Blacks was not acceptable as we know they have reflected,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said. “We all know there is a huge amount of work to do.

“Our focus now is to work with Ian and his team to understand thoroughly in advance of the Rugby Championship what is needed to improve performance and where to from here. We will begin this work immediately.”

Robinson’s statement is unlikely to allay fan concerns. All Blacks supporters will need rapid assurance that Foster, his assistants and his current All Blacks can continue on their current course and somehow produce better results.

Foster is unlikely to have made himself more popular among fans by suggesting on Saturday they lacked insight to recognize the quality of the Ireland team.

“New Zealand has to realize this is a very good Irish team and give them some credit,” Foster said. “It would be disrespectful to not make that the number one item. They’ve come and achieved something pretty special and they deserve a bit of time in the sun for that.

“For us we’re a group working hard. We’ve got a lot of belief in many of the solutions we’ve got but we’ve got to get better at executing them.”


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