Radio Sport Mornings' host Jason Pine counts down the top 15 sporting moments of the year. Today: Number 4 - The search for an All Blacks coach.

It's been almost a year to the day since Steve Hansen fronted media to announce his plans beyond the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

His decision - he would be leaving his post at the end of the World Cup campaign.

With that announcement, a nationwide debate began which would eventually end with the announcement of a new All Blacks coach three days short of one year later.

Advertisement

But in reality, the process didn't actually start until 11 months later, as outlined by NZR Chairman Brent Impey at the time of Hansen's announcement last December.

On November 6, Impey gave details on the recruitment process - shortlisting, interviews and negotiations would be conducted through November and early December, with a head coach to be announced prior to Christmas.

The selection panel would consist of Impey, incoming NZR chief executive Mark Robinson, Head of High-Performance Mike Anthony, former All Blacks head coach Sir Graham Henry and former Silver Ferns coach and High-Performance Sport New Zealand director, Waimarama Taumaunu.

The public's attitude was that it was one of two options. Either they stick with the status quo and promote from within - appointing assistant coach Ian Foster to the role - or they go outside the current ranks, with plenty of candidates on the table.

Impey said that 26 prospective coaches had been identified, contacted and made aware of the process for applying for the role.

He also made it clear what they were looking for from anyone applying for the job.

Top guns Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt had already ruled themselves out earlier in the year - Gatland choosing to stay with the British and Irish Lions, and Schmidt still keen to take time away from the game.

One man several candidates were keen to have on their coaching team was Tony Brown. However, soon after the process began, he confirmed his plans to stick with Jamie Joseph no matter what the circumstance.

Advertisement

On November 18, the Japanese Rugby Union announced they had secured Jamie Joseph until the end of of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Shortly after, another name was struck off the list. Dave Rennie was announced as the Wallabies' new coach by Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle.

John Mitchell had also recommitted to England, ruling out any chance of a return to the All Blacks role.

Suddenly, 99% of New Zealand's top international coaches were off the ticket.

And so it came down to two horses. Ian Foster, the current assistant coach, involved with the All Blacks for the past eight years, and Scott Robertson - arguably one of New Zealand's most charismatic coaches with unprecedented success with the

Debate raged with public opinion very much on the side of fresh blood. Foster, in the eyes of many, had not performed for previous side's he had coached, and now he was fresh of a Rugby World Cup semifinal exit.

Interviews were held, and on Wednesday December 11, the new coach was announced.

Ian Foster was given a two-year contract.

As expected, the reaction from the rugby public was mixed, though strongly opposed to Foster.

The following evening at the New Zealand Rugby awards, Scott Robertson gave his public reaction to the news. He was visibly broken by the process, in which he said he gave everything he could and left nothing on the table. His time will come, but many are hoping it's before he's snapped by other overseas sides.

For Foster, the makeup of his coaching team is yet to be revealed, but there are strong suggestions Hurricanes coach John Plumtree will be part of the mix, along with current All Blacks defence coach Scott McLeod and former All Black Greg Feek and skills coach David Hill.

Former Crusaders assistant coach Brad Mooar, now head coach at Welsh club Scarlets, has also been approached.

Ian Foster, the new All Blacks coach. After a year-long debate, months of speculation, public furore and heated opinions, we have our man.