Before leaving on January 31, New Zealand Rugby chair Stewart Mitchell needed to be questioned about a crucial issue, among many others. Rugby supporters can book New Zealand Rugby World Cup Tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.
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It's here: how was Mitchell received by rugby fans in his hometown of Christchurch after Crusaders coach Scott Robertson came so close to being the new All Blacks coach but finally fell short? neither a single time. though twice.
When they both went head-to-head for the job in an interview after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, Ian Foster initially defeated Robertson.
Mitchell was a trusted member of the NZ Rugby board even though he wasn't serving as chair for the first match. But when Robertson and Foster competed for the position last winter, albeit, under dubious circumstances, Mitchell was in charge of the board the second time.
The All Blacks' historic 2-1 series loss to Ireland in New Zealand, after a defeat to the Springboks in Mbombela, South Africa, set the stage for that captivating scenario. New Zealand Rugby had every reason to be concerned about the All Blacks' performances under Foster with the Rugby World Cup in France just over a year away, so Robertson was put on standby to take his place when the squad returned home after the second test against the Springboks in Johannesburg in August.
All Blacks defeated the Springboks
We all know what happened next: the All Blacks defeated the Springboks 35–23 at Ellis Park to break their three-match winless streak, and Foster was kept in his position by the Mitchell led board despite senior players' public and private campaigning of the game's power elites. Once more, Robertson was left out in the taciturn.
So, back to that question. Does Mitchell, a former New Zealand Colts forward who still meets up with his old Shirley rugby club teammates on a regular basis for bike rides, hear what the Cantabrians have to say about New Zealand Rugby's decision to deny Robertson the All-Blacks job?
"I don't receive any gyp from the rugby public, but I do occasionally get it from some of my rugby teammates, claims Mitchell. "Foster has a strong history and is a very experienced coach. And I believe he now has a solid coaching staff working with him."
Foster, who was in survival mode as a result of the Ireland series, had fired assistants John Plumtree and Brad Mooar. After the Johannesburg victory, he informed NZ Rugby that he was intending to promote Joe Schmidt from selector to backline coach. Foster had earlier locked in Jason Ryan, who had worked with Robertson at the Crusaders, as his forward's coach.
Ian Foster is an ideal candidate for All Black
Mitchell will however state the following. Foster, in his opinion, is the ideal candidate to lead the All Blacks.
"Look, though it was a difficult time, the right choice was ultimately taken," Mitchell says. "Everyone is considering what to do next, and it's now being discussed internally, but I won't be taking part in that decision."
Then what about Robertson? He has every right to be dissatisfied. Because the Crusaders have been good enough to win championships each year since he took over in 2017. Expecting him to reapply and risk rejection would be outrageous cruelty toward someone who has contributed so much to the inside and helped develop so many young players into All Blacks.
Despite the mischief that occurred last year, Mitchell is sure that Robertson can still have faith in NZ Rugby.
"Absolutely. No doubt should exist, in my perspective. The board and management staff will always be fully supportive of the All Blacks coach, regardless of the procedure. He (Robertson) is a very successful coach. But if things go extremely south, everything is always up for revision. In 2012, when he was chosen to serve as Canterbury's head coach, I served as the organization's chair. He will be prepared when the time comes, I have no doubt."
Canterbury’s Native may vote to Kiwisaver
If you were a native of Canterbury and had access to influential rugby figures (not Robertson, who disappeared during the scandal), you might have staked your Kiwisaver account on Robertson replacing Foster. While in Christchurch at the time, Schmidt, who did not travel to South Africa with the All Blacks, is believed to have visited with Robertson.
It's also said that top NZ Rugby officials instructed Robertson to get ready to take over as the new All Blacks coach that, despite nothing being in writing. He was instructed to prepare his coaching team for the remainder of the Rugby Championship.
However, when it mattered most, the NZ Rugby board decided to stick with Foster's contract after making the audacious decision to extend it to the Rugby World Cup in 2021.
That doesn't mean that Robertson and Foster's struggle is over; the other's contract expires at the end of the year. That's because NZ Rugby hasn't decided whether to break with convention and conduct interviews for the All Blacks position beyond 2023 prior to the Rugby World Cup rather than after it.
While Foster has yet to say whether he wants to continue beyond the France Rugby World Cup, Robertson has reaffirmed that he is still eager to lead the All Blacks.
Mitchell won't have to deal with it, though. He won't be present at the upcoming board meeting, which will happen the following month. Dame Patsy Reddy will take over as chair in his place.
Mitchell succeeded Impey
When Mitchell, an accountant with more than 30 years of consulting experience, succeeded Impey, he gave the impression of being a guy who wanted to get things done.
While NZ Rugby continued to deal with the devastation caused by the pandemic, there remained enough to accomplish.
On the priority list was closing the agreement with US equity firm Silver Lake, which required tough discussions with the NZ Rugby Players' Association, as well as sitting with Rugby Australia chair Hamish McLennan, who recently played a significant part in engineering the ouster of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.
Let's start with McLennan, who had previously poked the finger at Mitchell's predecessor Brent Impey.
How did Mitchell get along with the man who threatened to pull the Australian teams out of Super Rugby and didn't hold back when he felt the need to criticize NZ Rugby before both sides agreed to commit to the competition through the year 2030?
It turns out not to be so awful
"Hamis and I get along fantastic," Mitchell remarked. The two boards had supper in conjunction with the Auckland test (last year), which in his opinion was a great occasion. We may have first backed away from one another, but in the past few years, he said, "I think we have coped with each other. And I communicate with him as required.
I get along well with him on a personal level. He values my opinion. He uses the media more than we do or than I do, but that's just his manner " With the Rugby World Cups and the (British and Irish) Lions trip, they have some exciting years ahead of them."
Mitchell, who took over for Impey in 2021, was insistent that the Silver Lake idea should move forward. But it was lost without the Players' Association's support.
If the agreement was to go through, collaboration with the Players' Association's CEO Rob Nichol and chair David Kirk was essential. Last June, the ground-breaking agreement received approval. Do the players hold an excess of strength? Mitchell exhibited diplomacy.
"It is expected that we will work closely with them. I've communicated with David Kirk and Rob Nichol throughout the past year and developed relationships with them that have helped us get where we are. "They are certainly imperative to the identity; all we have to do going onward is effort willingly. If you watch American sports, you'll see that team branding is less noticeable than personalisation."
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Reddy, will succeed Mitchell
The first female chair of NZ Rugby, Reddy, will succeed Mitchell, therefore Mitchell wanted to make sure the board operated as a unit and develop a plan to guarantee a smooth succession.
The annual meeting is in April, but Mitchell, who must retire after nine years, said he wanted to leave early to make sure Reddy's elevation went as smoothly as possible. She should be ready for the attention that comes with playing such a prominent part.
According to Mitchell, the previous year was busy but productive. The All Blacks kept the Bledisloe Cup and won the Rugby Championship, the Silver Lake agreement was signed, and the Black Ferns won the Rugby World Cup. A governance review of the board is also in progress.
“Mitchell stated that chair role position required a lot of patience as it is prolonged. When I reflect on the past two years, I see that they have been difficult but also rewarding times " Really, I believe we have achieved some noteworthy achievements.
We had to let go of a lot of people after Covid since we didn't know what titles we could release or how much money we would make from media, but we made it through.”
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