As New Zealand Rugby [NZR] officials prepare to meet and attempt to plot a path out of the All Blacks’ mire, the team’s media manager has revealed she was responsible for cancelling coach Ian Foster’s Sunday press conference.
Jo Malcolm, an employee of NZR, says she made the decision because Foster was a “human first” and that he deserved some time to work out how he would reply to a barrage of questions regarding his future.
Foster’s All Blacks were beaten 32-22 by Ireland in Wellington on Saturday night, the defeat seeing the visitors claim an historic maiden series triumph in New Zealand after they had triumphed in Dunedin a week earlier.
Already under mounting pressure, Foster batted away questions about his future in his post-match presser, but he was unlikely to have had the same luxury at Sunday’s session, which is a typical All Blacks media spot the day after a Test regardless of the result.
And that’s when Malcolm says she stepped in.
“For the record, I decided not to demand that All Blacks head coach Ian Foster front late on Sunday morning. Not him,” Malcolm wrote on LinkedIn.
“I felt he needed a day or so to work out what he wanted to say and not just be a punching bag for the media, who let’s be clear, wanted blood. Let’s not pretend there was a higher purpose here. Let’s also be clear fans deserve to know what’s going on. I’m very clear on that.
“The timing, well he’s a human being who I wanted to protect. “
Malcolm’s decision has drawn stinging criticism in New Zealand’s media circles, with several columnists and pundits adamant it is time for change not only at the All Blacks but also at NZR.
NZR boss Mark Robinson released a statement shortly after Foster’s Sunday’s press conference was cancelled, saying a review into the All Blacks’ series defeat would start immediately.
While Foster is expected to retain his position as All Blacks coach after Wednesday’s NZR board meeting, it may be that he is handed the opening two Tests of the Rugby Championship to save his job.
But that is a daunting challenge with the All Blacks travelling to South Africa for back-to-back clashes against the world champion Springboks, whom New Zealand dropped one of two Tests to in 2021.
Foster’s contract was last year extended through to the end of 2023, after the All Blacks secured both a Bledisloe Cup sweep and then the Rugby Championship title.
But they were then beaten by both France and Ireland on the spring tour, the recent defeats to Andy Farrell’s side meaning the All Blacks have lost four out of their last five.