The last week has been one of the most tumultuous weeks in New Zealand rugby history.

Never before have the All Blacks replaced a coach mid-contract because of poor performance—it’s just simply not something that happens. And yet, for the first time since 1903, it seemed like that was a real option today, as the New Zealand Rugby Board reviewed the team’s performance off the back of a recent series defeat to Ireland.

Today, however, it has been announced that the All Blacks will be moving forward largely unchanged—no coach losing their job, no change in captain, no wholesale changes to the squad.

Here’s a look at how the drama has all panned out this week.

Foster reaching new lows

The All Blacks win.

That’s what they do.

Over the last 119 years, they’ve won 77.12% of their Test matches—literally making them the most successful professional sports team of all time.

And yet, the last few years… They haven’t been winning.

Since 2020, under the hand of coach Ian Foster and captain Sam Cane, the usually invincible All Blacks have suffered seven defeats. Foster now holds the worst record of any All Blacks coach, having only own 67% of his Tests in charge.

Last weekend was an all-time low—Ireland became the first Northern Hemisphere team to beat New Zealand in a home series, and the first team to do so full-stop since 1994. This pushed the All Blacks down to their lowest ever world ranking, No.4, a year out from the Rugby World Cup.

Naturally, the public have been baying for blood.

Change it all, or stick with the plan?

The last week, there have really been two schools of thought about how to fix the All Blacks.

One is to cut our losses, and bring in wholesale changes before it’s too late. Swap Foster for either six-time Crusaders championship coach Scott Robertson, or international maestro Joe Schmidt. Throw Ardie Savea or Sam Whitelock the captaincy instead of Sam Cane. Bring up Ethan de Groot, Cullen Grace, TJ Perenara, and a handful of other players to freshen up the squad.

The other, is that it’s too close to the World Cup, and we need to simply trust that Foster, Cane and the squad are on a journey, and they’ll figure out a way to right things before October 2023. All they need is our unconditional support, and we’ll have ourselves some more silverware next year.

Turns out the latter is going to be the game plan heading forward.

Minor changes, but largely same old for All Blacks

Today, Ian Foster fronted up to the media and announced his squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship.

Big picture: Not much is changing.

Foster reiterated several times that he won’t be resigning, Cane is retained as the captain, and Cullen Grace is still the unluckiest man in New Zealand.

Ethan de Groot and Shannon Frizell are the two new players called into the squad, both previous All Blacks that had been left out because of form/injury. Foster has hinted at some changes coming, but one suspects these will be fairly theoretical, given that this was the time for any significant moves to be made.

Notably, Joe Schmidt will not be travelling to South Africa with the squad, indicating that he won’t be transitioning into a more hands on assistant coaching role, as many suspected he would.

It remains to be seen how this All Blacks side will fair, however one thing is for sure: These are trying and unprecedented times to be an All Blacks’ fan.

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