New Zealand All Blacks Rugby News

Henry slams devalued French tour




In an embarrassing moment for world rugby, France has sent a fourth-stringer squad to New Zealand shores for a two-Test tour, and All Blacks coach Graham Henry is livid.

The French domestic competition the Top 14 have scheduled their semi-finals for this weekend, and the top French players are staying in France to play for their clubs.

French coach Bernard Laporte has admitted that 95 percent of his World Cup squad is at home.

France play their first Test in Auckland this Saturday with their weakened side.

“That’s not part of the international agreement,” says Henry.

“The management and administration of the international game need to get all those heads together and make sure that there is a clear direction for the future because that shouldn’t happen,” he told the South African Press Association (Sapa).

“To have the French semifinals and finals the next two Saturdays to me is an organisational chaos for the game. How can the IRB (International Rugby Board) and the French federation not have their heads together on that one?

“The IRB needs to lead and lead very strongly and work with the clubs of Europe and the provincial sides of the southern hemisphere and make sure that we preserve this great game,” pleaded Henry.

“At the moment there aren’t a lot of signs of that, to be frank. I know it’s difficult and it’s easy to sit here and say that. But when you have got sides coming over to this part of the world that aren’t as strong as they should be … that’s not good for the game.”

Henry says the All Blacks have been playing their part in preserving the competition of Test rugby.

“The All Blacks team that went to Europe last November was the best All Blacks team that we could put on the track,” he said.

“We are holding up our end of the bargain, we are showing a lot of integrity, we are putting the international game first.

“I think people need to think about that. They need to get their heads together and solve it because it’s not a good situation at the moment.”

Henry did say that he had heard some encouraging signs from New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) bosses Jock Hobbs and Chris Moller.

“I know that Jock and Chris have been working pretty hard in this area and they feel there is some light at the end of the tunnel which is very pleasing. We discussed it with them last week.

“It’s hell of important for the game. If they don’t do it, it will get worse.”


365 Digital

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