Welsh columnist calls NZ Rugby 'fanciful'

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen address media. Photo / Getty
New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen address media. Photo / Getty

New Zealand Rugby is getting too big for its boots and needs to be brought down a peg or two.

That's the message from the Wales Online rugby columnist Andy Howell, who said NZR boss Steve Tew had "bitten off more he can chew by threatening the nuclear option of not including the All Blacks in the international calendar following the 2019 World Cup in Japan."

The split in the game is highlighted by the UK-based Rugby World magazine's just-released list of most influential which snubs Tew and ranks England coach Eddie Jones above All Blacks supremo Steve Hansen.

Howell has waded in, stating "the ego of some New Zealanders seems to be out of control". He reckoned that coming from a small country with a tiny economy meant New Zealand rugby needed England and France more than the other way around.

"To think they could hold the northern hemisphere to ransom and demand money to face European teams is a bit fanciful," Howell writes.

"The Kiwis and Australians have been bleating about their revenue streams being hit hard every four years because the World Cup has resulted in a slashed Test schedule but that's no different to what happens to Wales and just about every other top-tier rugby nation.

"If I was European king-makers I'd call New Zealand's bluff and see if they carry out their threat.

"Personally, I couldn't care if they didn't come here for five or more years because the trouble with international rugby these days is everybody at the top end of it plays each other so often it's become like club football and the novelty of a fixture with the All Blacks or Springboks has long disappeared.

"...there would be only one winner if Europe ganged up on New Zealand - and it wouldn't be the All Blacks. If the New Zealanders don't want to play ball with the rest of the world it's up to them. Good luck!"

Howell's comments come at a time when NZR's campaign for a so-called global season has been knocked back by England's chief executive Ian Ritchie.

Meanwhile, Rugby World's top 50 of influential rugby figures includes a stack of administrators in the top 10 - even England's director of professional rugby Nigel Melville makes it. But Tew, who has helmed the union which has won the last two World Cups, misses out on the top 10.

Rugby World editor Owain Jones said the magazine "canvassed the opinions of the game's most informed journalists from all corners of the globe before putting together a panel to debate the merits of those put forward...that panel included RPA chairman Christian Day and former England fly-half Rob Andrew."

Argentina's Agustin Pichot tops the list - he is credited for getting rugby into the Olympics and Argentina into the Rugby Championship. Dan Carter, ranked at six, was the top rated current player. He is described as "the world's top point-scorer and a poster boy for the sport for a decade."

Wallaby flanker David Pocock was ninth: "for many, Pocock was the player of the World Cup and his principles on human rights matters set him as a man apart in a team game."

Top 10

1 - Agustin Pichot (World Rugby vice-chairman)
2 - Eddie Jones (England coach)
3 - Steve Hansen (All Black coach)
4 - Bill Beaumont (World Rugby chairman)
5 - Paul Goze (French club competition boss)
6 - Dan Carter (ex-All Black)
7 - Fikile Mbalula (South Africa's Minister of Sport)
8 - Mark McCafferty (CEO of England's premiership)
9 - David Pocock (Wallaby flanker)
10 - Nigel Melville (England's director of professional rugby)

- NZ Herald

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