Graham Henry steps down as All Blacks coach

by staff

2011 Rugby World Cup–winning coach Graham Henry has announced he is stepping down as All Blacks Coach.

Henry made the announcement at a media conference at his rugby club, Auckland University RFC, today following the All Blacks’ outstanding Rugby World Cup win nine days ago.

However, Henry will not be lost to rugby – the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) is discussing the possibility of retaining him as a coach mentor for the country’s leading coaches.

Henry finishes his All Blacks career as one of the most successful rugby coaches of all time: he coached the All Blacks to 88 wins in 103 Tests for a winning percentage of 85.4 percent. As well as winning Rugby World Cup 2011, the All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup every year since 2003, won the Investec Tri Nations five times and achieved three Grand Slams against the Northern Hemisphere Home Unions.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my mum Ann, my wife Raewyn and our three children Matt, Catherine and Andrew for their constant, unconditional support over the many years I have been coaching rugby,” he said.

“It’s been an enormous privilege to coach the All Blacks and I am exceptionally proud of how the team has added to the All Blacks legacy over the last eight years, involving 103 Test matches.

“I am also exceptionally proud of how they have developed an extremely professional and enjoyable culture and environment, and how they have reached out to people of all ages and put a smile on their faces, both here in New Zealand and overseas.

“So I want to say a special thank you and congratulations to all the players who have played during this time, especially to Tana Umaga and Richie McCaw, the two long-term captains.”

Henry also paid tribute and “a big thank you” to his fellow All Blacks coaches and management team.

“Wayne Smith, Steve Hansen, Mike Cron and Mick Byrne are quality men and all outstanding in their individual coaching roles.

“Also thank you to All Blacks Manager Darren Shand and his management team of Gilbert Enoka (Mental Skills Coach), Nic Gill (Strength & Conditioning Coach), the medical team of Deb Robinson (Doctor), Peter Gallagher (Physiotherapist), George Duncan (Muscle Therapist) and Katrina Darry (Nutritionist); Joe Locke and Jo Malcolm (Media Managers), Alistair Rogers (Performance Analyst), Errol Collins (Baggage Man) and Bianca Thiel (Executive Assistant), who I believe are the best in the world.

“Finally I would like to thank everyone in ‘the big team’ at the NZRU head office in Wellington for their help and expertise. A special thank you to Chairman Mike Eagle and CEO Steve Tew, former Chairman Jock Hobbs and CEO Chris Moller, and the NZRU Board, especially those gentlemen who reappointed the coaches after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.”

NZRU CEO Steve Tew today paid tribute to Henry.

“He leaves the All Blacks job as one of the greatest coaches in the game, his record is unsurpassed and while he will now get time to spend with family and friends, and the odd bit of fishing, we are delighted that Graham is still going to be involved in New Zealand rugby.”

Tew said the NZRU was currently in discussions with Henry and was looking to have him involved in mentoring coaches at Investec Super Rugby franchise and provincial level.

“He has a great relationship with the country’s professional coaches, as well as other coaches, and he still has so much to offer the game and it’s fantastic that up–and–coming New Zealand coaches will continue to benefit from his vast knowledge.”

Henry and All Blacks Assistant Coach Steve Hansen have one more coaching role this year – the duo will coach the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham, London, on Saturday 26 November.