All Blacks Super Rugby

All Blacks coach Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images

All Blacks coach: We miss playing South Africa in Super Rugby!

All Blacks coach Ian Foster says New Zealand has been adversely affected by the absence of South African teams in Super Rugby.

All Blacks Super Rugby

All Blacks coach Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images

The All Blacks coach was reflecting on 2021 season that included several highs and lows for New Zealand rugby, and which ended with the Springboks occupying top spot on the world rugby rankings.

Super Rugby effectively ground to a halt when the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, with South Africa ultimately opting to head into the northern hemisphere as the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers joined the United Rugby Championship.


Although New Zealand and Australia remain involved in a new-look Super Rugby competition, Foster has admitted that they’ve missed the presence of physically-imposing South Africans.

“I think we’ve definitely missed playing South Africa in Super Rugby,” Foster told Stuff Media.

“Just the sheer size of the players, and the fact that maybe they don’t allow you to play as much rugby as you want to play.”

New Zealand won 12 out of 15 tests in 2021, and comfortably won the Rugby Championship title, but lost back-to-back Tests against Ireland and France to finish their end-of-year tour on a disappointing note.

Foster said there needed to be a well-balanced review process prior to the new season.

“Reviewing is a multifaceted thing and everyone will find different ways to do it,” Foster said.

“For us, we do a review every week. We get used to having pretty tough conversations with each other after test matches and after training sessions.

“I think the challenge when you review is to make sure it doesn’t turn into a judgment from one group to the other.”


NZ Rugby’s annual review will take place in coming months, which will be cross-referenced with the All Blacks’ findings to make sure they are on the same page.

“We won’t know everything that comes out of that until mid-to-late January,” Foster said. “I certainly know the trends, and we dovetail that with our internal ones.

“What’s our alignment like? Are we pretty good? Where do we have to move?

“The findings of our review will probably be either January or early February, before we really get together as a group and say, ‘here’s the key things that we have to move or here’s the key things we’ve done well’, because understanding what went well for us is as important as the areas that we need to move.”