New Zealand sport seems to have spent the last two weeks caught between two used car dealers hell bent on selling their beaten-up Lada as a McLaren 570S. Their names are Raelene Castle, the boss of Sport New Zealand and Ian Foster, the All Black’s Head Coach.

I see Ian Foster began his second press conference after losing the Wellington test and the series to Ireland, with the claim he had never considered standing down. What a low life, bottom feeding, creep. He has the worst coaching record in the professional era, his team had just fallen to fourth in the world, and he never considered resignation? In my opinion that not only makes him a terrible coach, but a spineless person. What happened to words like character, honesty and integrity? I swear if the great hand of God was to go down as far as it could and lift Foster up as high as it could, he still would not reach the bottom. His players will have picked Foster’s character failings. They will be playing for All Black pride. I doubt they will ever play for their coach. With a flawed low life in charge The All Blacks are doomed.     

Two weeks ago, I wrote this about Ian Foster.

“Without a doubt when things are at their worst, character is tested most. We are about to see, this week, whether New Zealand rugby deserves or is capable of doing well in next year’s World Cup. Deal with this like grown-ups and New Zealand has a chance. Blink and take the easy option and that trophy is headed somewhere else. My guess is France. Le jour de gloire est arrivé.

Now the New Zealand Rugby Union has made its announcement. Sadly, it’s more of the same old, same old. Foster will coach – I use the word in the loosest possible sense – the team in the two tests against South Africa, two against Argentina and two against Australia.

So, what does that decision tell us about the All Black’s prospects?

Well, it tells us a heap about their coach, Ian Foster. Without a shred of dignity Emperor Foster will ride into Johannesburg with only the NZ Rugby Union believing he is dressed for the occasion. The desperate way he has held onto power is no way to take on the Springboks. Any coach with an ounce of self-respect would have resigned 5 minutes after the third Irish test. Now Foster’s departure is going to be long, drawn-out and painful.

It tells us the NZ Rugby Union, advised by an aged Sir Graham Henry, promoted Foster beyond his level of competence. There are 5 levels of competence

·        Minimal

·        Basic

·        Intermediate

·        Advanced

·        Expert    

Although we can safely say Foster’s coaching ability is Advanced, his time as coach of the Chiefs showed that was stretching his coaching competence to the limit and possibly beyond – 8 seasons (2004-11). 106 games, 53 wins, 48 losses, 5 draws. Win rate: 50%. At the Chiefs Foster demonstrated that even Super Rugby was probably a step too far. Fosters coaching ability is more suited to coaching a good provincial team. Bay of Plenty or Waikato provinces are where Foster should be. That is his coaching level of competence.

By comparison Razor’s record at the Crusaders is 6 seasons (2017-): 101 games, 86 wins, 13 losses, 2 draws. Win rate: 85.1%. Foster is not even close.

And yet NZ Rugby stick with the loser. The problem is the All Blacks need a coaching Expert. And that is not Ian Foster. The NZ Rugby Union has promoted Foster beyond his level of competence.

The decision to retain Foster suggests the All Blacks will struggle through the next six tests. Here is what I pick for Foster’s next few weeks.

·        The All Blacks will lose both tests to South Africa.

·        They will share the test series one-all with Argentina.

·        They will lose both tests against Australia. Rennie will inflict the final cut to this wounded animal. And he will do it at Eden Park.       

At the end of all that Foster’s 2022 record (including Ireland will be 2 wins and 7 losses) 22%. Perhaps that might be bad enough for the NZ Rugby Union to see their Emperor has no clothes.

And finally, the World Cup with Foster as coach. New Zealand will not do well. I support the current World Rankings – ignoring the effect of the draw.

France will win the A final against Ireland.

South Africa will win the B final against the All Blacks.

New Zealand will be fourth in a competition the players are certainly capable of winning. But therein lies the difference a coach can make. And sadly, it is so predictable, so avoidable. One call to Christchurch and New Zealand would have a chance.

No post predicting New Zealand rugby results would be complete without including the women’s Black Ferns. They will win their World Cup. “But” I hear you say, “What about the northern tour? It was a disaster.” And I agree it was not pretty. However, in that instance the NZ Rugby Union immediately replaced the coach. And therein lies the difference a coach can make. Smith can coach. His level of competence is in the Expert range. And his players know it and will respond.

In fact, New Zealand has an abundance of coaches in the Expert area of competence – Razor, Schmidt, Gatland, Joseph, Rennie, McDonald and a few others. But not Foster, as the NZ Rugby Union and Sir Graham Henry are about to find out.

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