Alex Powell: Heads must roll if Scott Robertson is allowed to leave New Zealand rugby

OPINION: Picture this - the year is 2023. The All Blacks have won the Rugby World Cup for the third time in four attempts.

Sam Cane lifts the Webb Ellis Cup to rapturous applause from thousands of travelling Kiwis, who've turned Paris into a sea of black jerseys - but that's not what we're waiting for.

All of a sudden, amid a chorus of "hoo-hey Razor ray, hoo-hey Razor ray", led by the likes of Beauden Barrett, Sam Whitelock and others, Scott Robertson does a head-spin on the turf of the Stade de France. 

The rest of the world smiles on. We're all winners here - life is good.

Sadly though, you get the feeling that this moment could just remain a pipe dream.

NZ Rugby boss Mark Robinson
NZ Rugby boss Mark Robinson Photo credit: Photosport

The Crusaders coach has emerged as a reported target of England, should they decide to part ways with Eddie Jones.

The days of seeing the man affectionately known as 'Razor' on Kiwi soil may be numbered.

And should Robertson be lured overseas, the people responsible for letting it happen have to be held accountable, if not for allowing him to leave New Zealand, then overlooking him as All Blacks coach in the first place.

Since becoming a head coach back in 2013, Robertson has known nothing but unprecedented success - Mitre 10 Cup titles in 2013 and 2015 with Canterbury, an U20 Rugby World Cup in 2015 and four straight Super Rugby titles speak for themselves.

But for some reason, Robertson was considered Ian Foster's lesser in the race to replace Sir Steve Hansen.

Scott Robertson with Richie Mo'unga
Scott Robertson with Richie Mo'unga Photo credit: Photosport

With all due respect to Foster, he's not the man to take the All Blacks forward. The end of 2019 was time for New Zealand Rugby to take stock of what had been achieved, firstly under Sir Graham Henry and then under Sir Steve Hansen, before moving in the next direction.

Foster was part of the system that was found wanting in 2019. Continuing what appeared to be the same gameplan exposed against England in Yokohama, the All Blacks looked second best in 2020. 

Playing six games, Foster's All Blacks have won three, lost two and drawn another - a win rate of just 50 percent. That included losing to an Argentina side that hadn't been able to train properly, due to COVID-19 quarantine.

The likes of England wouldn't race to snap him up as their coach, if and when he leaves the All Blacks, but they do want Robertson, which is reason enough to keep him around.

No argument - Scott Robertson is the best coach going around today.

Since taking over a Crusaders side that hadn't tasted glory in nearly a decade, Robertson has steered them to four titles in four years and they look a sure-thing to go five from five in 2021.

But it's not just what he does, it's how he does it.

After the Crusaders' 2018 Super Rugby title win - the second of four in a row - it was staggering to see Robertson rushing to get out of his post-match media commitments to celebrate with his team.

Robertson's created an environment that's so strong, his teams - and most importantly his opposition - know that they're in front before a ball's even been kicked. 

That doesn't just apply to the Crusaders either - first it was Canterbury, then the 'Baby Blacks'.

The players love him, the fans love him... even the media love him.

Ian Foster
Ian Foster Photo credit: Getty

Letting New Zealand's best coach join England is inconceivable. They've already got a headstart with the resources and talent at their disposal - Robertson would make them nigh on unstoppable.

Of course, in no way is it fair to demand that Foster be sacked after six games, but when you've got a once-in-a-generation coach like Robertson, something has to be done.

Robertson's current deal with New Zealand Rugby is up at the end of 2021. If he's allowed to leave, that's a disaster for New Zealand and the All Blacks.

If he leaves and joins England, then heads at the top have to roll. 

Alex Powell is a Newshub online sports producer