Coach Hansen spells out why All Blacks are in a different league
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen inadvertently pointed a huge spotlight on rugby administration failures in South Africa when he highlighted why New Zealand’s rugby was in such a good place.
The All Blacks won this year’s Rugby Championship in a canter‚ breaking numerous records along the way‚ to back up last year’s World Cup triumph.
The Hurricanes also became the fifth different New Zealand franchise to win Super Rugby when they won the title earlier his year‚ to further underline how far ahead Kiwi rugby is from the rest of the world.
While South Africa has no answers after what can only be described as a disastrous season that has seen the Boks win four tests out of nine – with only two wins from six in the Rugby Championship – New Zealand is lapping the field.
Hansen put it down to several factors.
“The big thing we have going for us at home is that we have quality people and quality administrators making good decisions‚” he said.
“The [Super Rugby] franchises are driven well and those coaches are striving to be better all the time. “You can go right down to schools level where they are trying to produce players that go on and become professionals.”
“The golden goose is our central contracting system, because when you have good administrators at the top in control of contracts‚ everyone has to work together because you only have one paymaster.”
Contrast that to South Africa, where provinces contract players and even a small pool of nationally contracted players are still in a dual arrangement where the SA Rugby Union pays twothirds of a players’ wage and his union the other third.
Hansen also pointed out that the best interests of New Zealand rugby were central to everything that happened in that country.
In South Africa, that is often not the case with petty provincial issues and political points-scoring prevalent thanks to a constitution that entrenches the archaic system of elected officials in a supposedly professional sport.
“There are no other people with other agendas‚” Hansen said.
“Our only agenda is to win matches and produce quality players.”
The All Blacks lost nearly 500 test caps worth of experience this year with the international retirements of Richie McCaw‚ Dan Carter‚ Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
Yet they are arguably a better team than a year ago.
“We planned very well for the World Cup and beyond‚” Hansen said.
“And we put a lot of work in to ensure we had a captain ready to lead from the front and Kieran [Read] has done that magnificently.”
“We knew we were going to lose a lot of experienced players‚ but we’ve been working hard on our skills and game for a long time. “Our defence and attack have really come along and we’re delivering a great product.”
“We’re a team that is playing with lots of confidence‚ and that has a snowball effect.” Hansen tried to throw some crumbs of comfort South Africa’s way by suggesting patience was needed.”
“I still think South Africa can be a good team‚ but they need time now with new coaches and new players‚” he said.
“They’ve lost some real experience‚ and it’s always very difficult to replace that. There is potential for them to become a very good side‚ but patience will be needed.”
The coach’s indaba later this month could be a step to solving some of South Africa’s rugby problems by aligning a strategy to do what is best for the Springboks.
If not‚ the Boks will become a secondtier team.