Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks coaches reunited as Ian Foster confirms future

Jared Wright
All Blacks head coach Ian Foster and his predecessor, Steve Hansen.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster and his predecessor, Steve Hansen.

Ian Foster has confirmed his first full-time job since he led the All Blacks to the 2023 Rugby World Cup Final.

The 58-year-old endured a rollercoaster stint as the All Blacks head coach after taking over from Sir Steve Hansen in 2020.

During his 46 Test cap tenure he won 32 matches, lost 12 and drew two with his 70% win rate ranked as the worst for an All Blacks head coach in the professional era.

He also oversaw a first-ever defeat to Argentina and a first loss to Los Pumas in New Zealand. In 2022, the All Blacks also lost a home series to Ireland, going down to the Irish for the first time in New Zealand, and then suffered a heavy defeat to South Africa which put pressure on Foster’s role.

Ian Foster heads to Japan

However, a stark turnaround saw them reach the 2023 Rugby World Cup final, where they were edged 12-11 in the final to South Africa.

Before the World Cup, New Zealand Rugby announced that Scott Robertson would be taking over from Foster in 2024 and despite offers, he explained that he put off talks over his future until after the tournament.

“I’m not saying anything about my future at the moment, but all I’d say is I haven’t spoken to anyone about anything and I’ve done that deliberately,” he explained when asked about his future.

“I had a couple of options before the World Cup that I basically said, if you want to talk to me, you have to wait till after the World Cup, because I don’t want this team or in fact, this country, thinking that I was busy trying to sort myself out before the biggest event.”

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Now, Foster has confirmed his future and will reunite with fellow former All Blacks boss Hansen, who he served as an assistant coach between 2012 and 2019.

He will link up with Japanese Rugby League One side Toyota Verblitz next season.

“I am very excited to be joining Toyota and am determined to make a difference. I have been very impressed with their ambition and am confident we can work together to achieve the goal of winning titles,” Foster said on his appointment.

“And of course I am looking forward to linking back up with Steve and working with him again. We have always worked well together and have shared some incredible.”

He added: “I have kept an eye on the development of Japanese rugby over the last few years. There is no doubt Rugby League One is a competition that is improving all the time.”

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Hansen and Foster reunited in Japan

Hansen, who is the director of rugby at Toyota Verblitz, is eager to work with Foster again with the pair leading the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup glory in 2015.

“It’s really exciting to finally announce that Ian is joining us. Ian, as we all know, is someone I have a strong personal connection with and trust deeply,” he said.

“He’s not only an exceptional coach but also a wonderful friend, so I’m eagerly anticipating his arrival. We’ve already had productive discussions about our plans for next year, and the excitement is palpable.

“Toyota has been incredibly supportive, and we’re increasingly ambitious, not just as a company but also as a club aiming to make our mark in rugby. While progress takes time, Ian’s addition is another crucial piece of the puzzle.

“His knowledge, understanding of the game, and communication skills are second to none, and I’m thrilled to collaborate with him once again.”

Quiz: Can you name all 44 two-time Rugby World Cup winners?