Rugby: NZ Rugby CEO Mark Robinson stands behind decision to re-appoint Ian Foster as All Blacks coach

NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson has no doubt or regret over the decision to extend All Blacks coach Ian Foster's contract by another two years, despite the team's worst season since 2009.

After a 2020 that saw the team underwhelm against Australia, as well as suffer a historic loss to Argentina, Foster's All Blacks did little to quell the rising discontent among fans, with a string of insipid performances in big test matches.

While the team finished the year with 12 victories from 15 tests and scored a record 101 tries, back-to-back defeats against Ireland and France have left the All Blacks and NZ Rugby with a long summer to reflect on what went wrong.

Coach Foster, 56, finds himself in the firing line, appointed on an initial two-year contract to take the role from predecessor Sir Steve Hansen and extended through to the end of 2023 in August.

He was offered the contract before the All Blacks embarked on their three-month tour and the biggest tests of his coaching tenure, but NZR doesn't believe it acted hastily in re-signing him.

"We obviously took a lot of feedback onboard at that time and weighed up that decision carefully," Robinson tells Newshub.

"The team, through the year, has had some outstanding performances. Obviously, those last couple [of games] were disappointing, no-one hurts more around losses like that than the team and management.

"I know there's a lot of frustration in other parts about those performances, but it's always been the case with players and coaches - they hurt more than anyone else.

"That's why the resolve is so hard here to improve, take the [lessons] from the review - which we're actively engaging in at the moment - and then move decisively to provide whatever we need to, in terms of Ian having everything at his disposal to go into next year and create opportunities to have great performances."

One resource available to Foster from 2022 onwards will be the assistance of newly appointed selector Joe Schmidt.

Although his job title might not infer it, Schmidt, 56, is a world-class coach in his own right, guiding Ireland to the top of World Rugby rankings and twice defeating the All Blacks - a feat never previously achieved by the nation.

On paper, Schmidt will only assist in All Blacks selection, but the reality of having one of rugby's best coaches in Foster's camp isn't lost on Robinson, who hints that more change could be on the way, as NZR reviews the past 12 months.

"Certainly, Joe Schmidt's appointment is obviously in keeping with that," he adds."We've stayed in touch with Joe for some time. 

"We believe he's a wonderful addition to the group. He's excited by it now, and I know Ian and the team will be excited to have him on board.

"That's the first step, and we just have to work through the remainder of the review to see what other things we can learn from and respond to."

Tune in to Newshub at 6pm for Mark Robinson's interview with rugby reporter Ollie Ritchie