Tuesday 17 September 2019

Hansen hits out at World Rugby after All Blacks thrash Tonga with 14 men

New Zealand's Kieran Read (L) and the head coach Steve Hansen share a smile during the rugby union Test match between New Zealand and Tonga in Hamilton. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
New Zealand's Kieran Read (L) and the head coach Steve Hansen share a smile during the rugby union Test match between New Zealand and Tonga in Hamilton. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Charlie Morgan

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has blasted World Rugby for failing to offer enough support to Pacific Island teams and believes there will be no progress until Six Nations unions no longer "rule world Test rugby programmes".

The All Blacks thrashed Tonga 92-7 in Hamilton on Saturday, scoring 14 tries despite voluntarily playing the final 15 minutes with 14 men.

Hansen said his side's opponents for their final World Cup warm-up, as well as countries such as Fiji and Samoa, are not provided with enough Test fixtures. Saturday represented New Zealand's 47th Test since Rugby World Cup 2015, while it was just a 21st for Tonga.

Hansen suggested that World Rugby's scrapped proposals for a two-division Nations Championship, which were opposed by Six Nations unions, were not matched with conviction from the governing body.

"The problem that we've got is a calendar that doesn't allow you to do that," Hansen said of more fixtures for Pacific Island nations.

"We have these wonderful ideas about growing the game but we don't have an organisation at the top that wants to be strong enough to say, 'Righto, this is what we're doing, we're going to have a global season'.

Progress

"The Six Nations rule world Test rugby programmes. They don't want to give that up and until they're prepared to give that up, we're not going to see any progress."

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Hansen said Tonga, against whom England begin their World Cup campaign on September 22, are handicapped by the pain-staking process of bringing players together for training camps.

Even so, he suggested that Toutai Kefu's men will be better at the tournament than in Hamilton. "It's really difficult (for me) when your players play for five different franchises in New Zealand," he said. "So I can only imagine how difficult it would be when your players are playing all over the world and you're bringing them back and you don't have much time to prepare them.

"Whatever happened yesterday, (Tonga) will get way better by the time they get to the tournament."

Meanwhile, Hansen explained the decision to finish with 14 men in the final stages of their victory. Centre Ryan Crotty left the field after 65 minutes, with the All Blacks leading 92-0 having already made eight changes, and was not replaced.

"When Ben (Smith) came off, he was a little tight in the hamstring. Beauds (Beauden Barrett) had already come off. We had Aaron (Smith) on the bench and could have put him on the wing or on for TJ (Perenara) but we always knew we wanted to take Ryan off at 65 because he hasn't played for so long." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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