Despite the All Blacks knocking the stuffing out of everyone for the last twelve months the NZRU have not had a particularly memorable 2016.
If you add up how they handled the Chiefs party, the reaction to Losi Filipo being let off, and the Aaron Smith story then you would think that their PR blokes are likely to be for the chop.
You’d think that they would now be very careful about how they went about things wouldn’t you?
You’d be wrong.
New Zealand didn’t do so hot at the Olympics in Rio where the NZRU had targeted gold. Frankly I think this was somewhat optimistic given that Fiji were always favourites and the lack of support for the integration of 15s players into the NZ 7s squad.
They did undoubtedly underperform and were always under pressure after the initial loss to Japan coupled with SBW being injured out of the tournament. They lost to Fiji in the quarter finals.
Sir Gordon Tietjens got bad press when he returned and subsequently resigned form a role he had held, with distinction, for 22 years.
A couple of weeks ago he was announced as the new coach for Samoa.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DECEMBER 05: DJ Forbes, the New Zealand captain celebrates with the New Zealand squad after their win over Samoa in the final of the IRB Sevens tournament at the Dubai Sevens Stadium on December 5, 2009 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
With New Zealand he delivered 12 World Series titles, two World Cup sevens titles and four Commonwealth golds. Not too shabby I would argue.
Did he go with the blessing of NZRU – did he fuck!
They are holding him to a contract that doesn’t end until January – effectively meaning he will miss the first two rounds of the World Series.
“My contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union runs through December, up to January,” he told the New Zealand Herald.
“I guess you could say I am on gardening leave.
“I got a letter telling me about my contractual obligations.”
The veteran coach is being held to his contract with the NZRU right to the bitter end.
“I did find it a bit hurtful, to be told I couldn’t go to Samoa to coach and that I would effectively miss the first two tournaments,”
“I thought maybe 22 years would count for something. There’s an assistant coach in Samoa who will look after things until I can get there.
“I did offer to help with the New Zealand side some time ago, as they still don’t have a new coach. However, that doesn’t seem to have come to anything; Dubai is only a few weeks away now.”
And the response from NZRU?
New Zealand Rugby High Performance Manager Don Tricker said: “We’ve reached a confidential agreement with Sir Gordon so it’s not really appropriate for us to comment further.”
Maybe my frequent criticism of the RFU is less deserved than I thought.
So much for loyalty eh?