New Zealand press slam Henry reappointment

New Zealand media have condemned Graham Henry’s reappointment as All Blacks rugby coach, calling it a “black moment” for the country’s sport.


Most favoured Canterbury Crusaders coach Robbie Deans to replace Henry, who oversaw the All Blacks’ worst ever World Cup performance when they crashed out to France in the quarter-finals.

There was little support for Henry in the lead-up to Friday’s vote by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU), and the vitriol intensified afterwards in a series of opinion pieces.

Questions were also raised about the haste to appoint a coach before the completion of an independent review into the World Cup failure by the pre-tournament favourites.

“Reappointing Graham Henry as All Black coach was a decision from a vulnerable and self-serving board,” wrote New Zealand Herald rugby writer Wynne Gray in a piece headed “Wrong man, wrong reasons — this decision is all wrong.”

“Retaining Henry did not reflect the mediocrity of the entire season and a flawed entire World Cup campaign, let alone the Cardiff capitulation.” Chris Rattue in the Herald said Henry “failed dismally” at the World Cup.

“Henry and his co-coaches went against all common sense in preparing the All Blacks for a tournament on which, by their own actions, their reputations rested.

“Over and above everything else, they manoeuvred their best players out of their best form. It is difficult to know how these men might have got it more wrong.”

Rattue concluded that Henry’s reappointment was “a black moment for rugby union in this land” while the Sunday News called it a “Black day.” Figures in the Sunday News showed 21 of New Zealand’s 26 rugby provinces favoured Deans, but the NZRU vote was 7-1 for Henry.

Sunday Star-Times columnist Phil Gifford said the NZRU had rewarded “the most expensive mistake” in the sport’s history and was spending more money investigating what went wrong when it has “locked in the men at the helm of the debacle.

“What does the NZRU do if the report suggests grievous errors by the coaching staff?” he asked.

Writing in The Press newspaper, former NZRU chief executive David Moffett said it appeared his former employer was rewarding failure.

“They obviously did not take into account Henry’s ultimate failure as Welsh coach, failure as The Lions coach and failure at the World Cup,” Moffett commented.

“The union may be deluding itself with its attempt at rewriting history but the New Zealand rugby public is not so easily fooled.”

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