Graham Henry leaves the All Blacks with mission accomplished

Most coaches who have unsuccessful Rugby World Cup campaigns are instantly axed by the time their side’s plane has hit the runway. History presents us with only two exceptions to this; Sir Clive Woodward, and Graham Henry.

The former Auckland, Wales and Lions coach took up the position of New Zealand Head Coach in 2003, and now eight years on leaves them as World Champions. With Henry speaking on Radio 5 Live this morning about how he would like to work with a club or union in Europe, “The Great Redeemer” will not be short of options. Here’s a look back on his reign:

12th June 2004: New Zealand 36-3 England

Henry’s first game in charge of New Zealand saw the visit of world champions England to Dunedin, led by Sir Clive Woodward. They were comprehensively defeated by the All Blacks with a final score of 36-3. Fielding Dan Carter at inside centre, there were tries from Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko and Carlos Spencer.

20th November 2004: Wales 25-26 New Zealand

On his return to Wales for the first time since becoming All Blacks coach, Henry’s side beat the hosts by just a single point at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, winning 26-25 with Joe Rokocoko grabbing a brace of tries.

9th July 2005: New Zealand 38-19 British & Irish Lions

The All Blacks defeated the British & Irish Lions in the third test in Auckland, wrapping up a series whitewash against the touring side. In total the All Blacks scored 107 points against the Lions over the three tests, conceding just 40. As a result, Henry was named IRB Coach of the Year, with Dan Carter becoming Player of the Year and the All Blacks winning Team of the Year.

15th September 2007: New Zealand 108-13 Portugal

The biggest win of Henry’s time in charge of New Zealand came against Portugal in the 2007 Rugby World Cup Pool stages, the All Blacks running in 16 tries against the minnows, with a final score of 108-13.

6th October 2007: New Zealand 18-20 France

The nightmare. New Zealand lost to France in the quarter-finals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. A controversial forward pass for what proved the decisive try left New Zealand stunned, as once again they choked on the big stage, putting Graham Henry’s job on the line. He was controversially re-appointed.

13th June 2009: New Zealand 22-27 France

New Zealand lose at home for the first time since defeat to England back in 2003, with Cedric Heymans scoring an inspirational try and France winning 27-22 in Dunedin.

30th October 2010: New Zealand 24-26 Australia

The All Blacks lose a tour match against the Wallabies in Hong Kong, thanks to a last minute try and conversion from James O’Connor. Australia were coached by Robbie Deans, who was Henry’s rival for the All Blacks job back in 2007.

27th August 2011: Australia 25-20 New Zealand

Australia defeat the All Blacks in Brisbane by 25 points to 20 to win the Tri-Nations title, thanks to a superb try from Radike Samo. The result added pressure onto Henry’s shoulders just a few weeks ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup.

23 October 2011: New Zealand 8-7 France

New Zealand win the Rugby World Cup, defeating France in the final in Auckland in front of an emotional home crowd by 8-7, sparking wild celebrations across the country with the All Blacks taking the trophy around Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington. Henry declares that he will not serve another term as All Blacks coach, and steps down a week later.

Henry’s All Black Record: W 88 L 15 D 0

9 thoughts on “Graham Henry leaves the All Blacks with mission accomplished

  1. When history looks back on the last decade I think many will point to Graham Henry as one of the best coaches of our time, possibly going as far as calling him the best. Although he has had a couple of hiccups along the way (mostly thanks to France and Australia), his record is a collection of scalps many would be jealous of. Five Tri Nations titles, a British and Irish Lions series whitewash (no mean feat, despite the issues the tourists had), three Grand Slam tours and, most importantly, the 2011 World Cup.

    Say what you want about the class of opponent at times, it takes nothing away from an enviable record (and this comes from someone who has never claimed to be his biggest fan). Any team would be lucky to have his guidance in any capacity.

  2. Good coach. He learned from all of his experiences. Good and bad. Ultimately he put it all into practice.

    Although I am sure that most half decent coaches would have a good record if in charge of the AB’s. Not sure you’d want their press though – could be even worse than the British papers! (on rugby matters!)

    Although the NZRFU want to hang onto him as a consultant, I can’t see that happening – would you want to take over the AB’s with him in the background – you’d never get away from his legacy (no comparison to CW at all!). I think that Henry is clever enough to know that, which is why he wants time in Europe somewhere.

  3. Am I the only person who thinks GH is overrated?
    – limited success with Wales
    – mis-management cost the 2001 Lions a series win in Australia (according to several independent accounts)
    – complete failure (in terms of character, along with NZRFU) to condemn foul play by Umaga & Mealamu on BO’D in 1st Lions test in 2005
    – choke in RWC2007
    – win RWC2011, but with a squad of players far better than most of their competitors, led by a stand-out skipper in King Richie

  4. Nah – not the only one by a long shot
    (but all those that doubted GH got amnesia once McCaw lifted the cup!)

  5. I agree with Nick.

    Although he left his mark on the type of rugby Wales plays, I expected much more from “coach of the decade”. The choke in 2007 also points to a squad unprepared for the pressure of a high-level tournament.

  6. Tend to disagree – he’s not perfect (what coach is?) and he’s made mistakes in the past, but I think that he’s learnt from them and overall is a very good coach.

    Who did Henry compete with for the AB job 4 years ago – Deans. Deans has had an excellent track record making the best of what he’s got with Oz but did he make a massive blunder by sticking with Cooper over Barnes for this RWC – probably.

    If I didn’t think coaches could grow and learn, I’d ditch Johnno now – because his track record is generally poor (although interspersed with some good wins), but I think he’s got potential to be good.

    1. “If I didn’t think coaches could grow and learn, I’d ditch Johnno now – because his track record is generally poor (although interspersed with some good wins), but I think he’s got potential to be good.”

      Is the international scene the place to be learning/making your first mistakes? part of me says he hasn’t had long enough and to start again might see some regression.

      how about:

      Head coach… Jim Mallinder
      Defence coach… Sean Edwards
      Graham Henry to oversee things

  7. I agree that you shouldn’t be cutting your managerial teeth on the international stage and that was the problem of appointing Johnno in the first place – the RFU shouldn’t have done it. However he now has experience – whether he has enough, I don’t know!

    Love to see a change of coaches. Edwards as defence coach with a future as head coach? Definitely need a coach overseeing everything and taking player discipline etc out of head playing coaches hands.

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