WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (AP) – The Rugby Championship test between New Zealand and Argentina at Christchurch tomorrow is supposed to be a “new dawn” for the All Blacks.
Fans know this because New Zealand Rugby (NZR) told them so. When it recently reappointed head coach Ian Foster through the 2023 World Cup, NZR was effusive in its praise. It said Foster was the only man who could lead the All Blacks into this new era.
Setting aside the fact that the All Blacks under Foster have won only two of their last seven tests, NZR’s Chief Executive Mark Robinson portrayed him as a visionary who would take New Zealand back to the peak of world rugby. The All Blacks currently languish at fifth place, their lowest-ever world ranking.
Robinson wasn’t clear on what might happen if the All Blacks lose to Argentina tomorrow, other than that the new dawn would be momentarily postponed.
A loss to Argentina is something All Blacks supporters normally would not consider likely.
The All Blacks hadn’t lost to the Pumas in 29 tests until Foster became the first coach to experience a defeat in 2020.
The Pumas squad that the All Blacks face in the first test in Christchurch in six years may be one of the most formidable they have faced. The team has been re-energised by former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and goes into the match on the back of a 48-17 win over Australia.
The All Blacks will attempt to back up the win over the World Cup champion Springboks in South Africa two weeks ago which made it possible for NZR to throw its backing behind Foster.
The win in Johannesburg was a vital one for a beleaguered coach and team but will count for nothing if the All Blacks don’t win again against the Pumas.