Argentina Rugby hires Graham Henry

by Staff Writer

World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry will return to international rugby as adviser to Argentina in its first season of competition against powerhouses New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

The 65-year-old Henry capped a 13-year international coaching career by guiding his native New Zealand to last year's World Cup title.

He resigned shortly after and was linked to the vacant position of England head coach but said he wanted a less involved role as an adviser so he could spend time with his family.

The Argentine Rugby Union said on Wednesday that Henry would start work next month on a one-year contract that includes Argentina's debut in an expanded southern hemisphere tournament.

The Pumas, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals in New Zealand, will play South Africa, Australia and the All Blacks in what was previously the Tri-Nations. It will be called the Four Nations from this year.

"It makes me very happy that Henry is joining us," Argentina coach Santiago Phelan said. "He's coming to work with us and make our play better."

Entry into the Four Nations is a major step for Argentina, where the game remains decidedly amateur. Top Argentine players mostly travel to Europe to play professionally, making it difficult to pull together national team training sessions.

Henry began coaching internationally with Wales in 1998 after being overlooked by the All Blacks despite a winning two Super rugby titles with the Auckland Blues. He improved a previously struggling Wales team and at one point guided it to 11 straight wins, leading to his appointment in 2001 as the first overseas coach of the British and Irish Lions' touring team.

New Zealand appointed him following its failure at the 2003 World Cup in Australia and stuck with him despite a narrow quarter-final loss to France at the 2007 tournament. He led New Zealand to five Tri-Nations titles, including four in a row from 2005-08.

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