Here’s your round-up of all the latest rugby headlines for Saturday, July 23.
Wales’ ‘lack of ambition’ called out amid wake-up call
Wales lack ambition just 14 months from the World Cup and their historic win over the Springboks this summer may mean they “have lost themselves even further in this falsest of dawns”, according to Stuart Barnes.
Delivering a wake-up call in his column for The Times, former England fly-half and respected rugby pundit Barnes claimed the South African side which Wales beat away for the first time was “effectively a second/third-choice side, rather than a first or second-string 23” and “not a semblance of their World Cup-winning team”.
“Wales took little to risk in their rugby,” he said. “If I criticise England for their conservatism over the years, it would be disingenuous to ignore the Welsh lack of ambition.
“There were, unfortunately, echoes of the Lions series. Bar some slick scores from Louis Rees-Zammit in the early stages of the first Test, Wales offered little ambition. Kieran Hardy, a clever scrum half, box kicked — and often brilliantly — for the time he was on the field. It almost worked against a near full-strength South Africa in the first Test and Wales were in the game most of the deciding Test.
“If you believe the world champions were playing at 7/10 level, this was a successful series from a troubled Welsh perspective. However, if the Springboks looked like they functioned at nothing more than a clogged up 3/10, Wales may well have lost themselves even further in this falsest of dawns.”
He also calls for Wales to show more ambition as “brave defeats won’t keep the customers satisfied”.
Under-pressure Foster to remain as All Blacks coach
Ian Foster insists he is still the right man to lead the All Blacks, despite growing questions over his future. New Zealand’s recent series defeat to Ireland has seen critics round on the New Zealand coach, but he has reaffirmed his commitment to turning things around.
“There’s no doubt I’m under pressure,” Foster said. “But I’m always under pressure. As an All Blacks coach you live in that world all the time. Does it hurt? Yes it does, but the key thing is I do everything I can to make sure we have the right people in the right seats.”
Foster has also come to the defence of under-fire captain Sam Cane, who is set to lead the All Blacks into the upcoming Rugby Championship campaign despite suggestions that Sam Whitelock may well take the reins.
“I believe in him,” Foster said. “I believe in him as a person, as a leader. I think the easiest thing to do when a series doesn’t go your way is to point the finger in blame and want people’s neck.”
Welsh official on TMO duties for Rugby Championship
Welsh official Ben Whitehouse is set to take on TMO duties for two matches between New Zealand and Australia at the upcoming Rugby Championship this autumn.
Whitehouse will be in place for the first clash between the two sides in Melbourne on September 15, before taking on the same role in the reverse fixture at Eden Park in Auckland nine days later.
Meanwhile, countryman Craig Evans has been named as assistant referee for Argentina’s showdown with South Africa in Buenos Aires on September 17.