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 chairperson 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.
Later Wednesday, Foster confirmed that he would not seek reappointment beyond this year’s global showpiece.
“As I said last week, I felt the best thing for our team and for our entire management group was to have this process done after the Rugby World Cup,” he said in a statement.
“That hasn’t happened but we will accept the decision and move on.
“My sole focus remains unchanged. It is to lead this All Blacks team and management group in our planning and preparation so that we go to France with the goal of winning the Rugby World Cup and making this country proud.
“I won’t be re-applying for the job of head coach.”
Robertson, who last week saw his Crusaders lose their opening Super Rugby Pacific clash to the Chiefs, has made no secret of his desire to coach the All Blacks.
He has also said he would have no issue coaching another Test nation, but after the recent changes at the international level — Australia, England and Wales all named new coaches in either December or January — there are few vacant positions around the world.
NZR has previously favoured candidates with some level of overseas experience, which could be a boost for Joseph given his long tenure with the Brave Blossoms.