I like Graham Henry, I think he’s a good coach, I like the way he makes the All Blacks play. I like the fact that, after the 2007 Rugby World Cup he didn’t just run away, he thought “this is a bloody stupid Hara-kiri system” and reapplied for the All Blacks coaching job. (Good work from NZRU for keeping him too). I’m of the belief that most players and coaches have to go through a world cup fail before they can have a world cup win.
Last night the All Blacks were excellent, they used all their skill, physicality and experience to suppress the Wallabies to such a degree I’ll spend the rest of my life unable to quite believe it. Their speed, power and commitment must mean that they’re suffering – you can’t dish it out tackles like that without beating yourself up into the bargain. If it weren’t for the fact that the French must also have ruptured themselves, smashing into the formidable Welsh on Saturday, I might suggest that it will be an interesting final.
However, Mr Henry has gone waaaaay down in my estimations.
His comments about Quade Cooper in the after game press conference were arrogant, cowardly and pretty much unjustified. Cooper is a cocky little shit and his ongoing on-field conflict with McCaw is ill advised, if only for the fact that McCaw can probably hit harder and apparently excretes a pheromone that stops referees from punishing him for his misdemeanours, but he’s no worse than anyone else, he just looks like a trouble maker.
Rugby union is a game with many rules and some very complicated grey areas. It is a game where the most successful teams are constantly exploring the limits of what is currently regarded as an infringement, and what the officials will turn a blind eye to. Golden boy McCaw himself spent whole games offside in the ruck last year.
There’s also an enormous amount of sly, extra 10% violence taking place on the field. Why? Why wouldn’t you? Niggle the opposition and they get frustrated, when they get frustrated they give away penalties. But no one cries about it, it’s rugby union after all, it’s full contact, it’s meant to hurt, that’s why people enjoy playing it.
To suggest that Cooper is somehow a special case, who needs to give back by sucking up a whole lotta hate, is a line of thought that a world class coach should not express after the game is won. Goading a player after the win is the action of a coward and it should be beneath the coach of the host nation.
Graham Henry, consider your own advice: “You have to earn respect; you can’t just expect respect.”