New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson concedes regret over Ian Foster coaching saga

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) admits if they had their time again they'd handle the debacle around Ian Foster's future as All Blacks coach differently.

Foster was on the brink of being sacked in South Africa but was sensationally retained after his side got out of jail against the Springboks at Ellis Park.

The serenity of Sydney was an enjoyable way to end a year that's been far from smooth sailing for New Zealand Rugby.

Ian Foster and Mark Robinson.
Ian Foster and Mark Robinson. Photo credit: Getty Images

"If you look at the last little while, and the platform we have to move into next year, we're incredibly excited," Robinson told Newshub.

NZR finished the year by locking away a final piece of the jigsaw for the future - a long-term Super Rugby deal with Rugby Australia through to 2030.

But while 2022 may have ended on a high off the field and on it, there has been no shortage of lows.

The All Blacks badly underperformed, assistant coaches John Plumtree and Brad Mooar were sacked following July's series defeat to Ireland, as Crusaders assistant Jason Ryan was ushered in.

"There's no hiding from it, the All Blacks' pack has been dented - it really has," Ryan said at the time.

Head coach Ian Foster very nearly became the third casualty, barely holding on thanks to a lucky escape at Ellis Park.

The decision to add former Ireland mastermind Joe Schmidt to the coaching group also helped save him.

NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.
NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson. Photo credit: Photosport

Robinson at times struggled to get a grip of the situation, with a famously fumbled press conference after defeat to South Africa.

And he concedes the handling of that situation could've been better.

"Look, where we ultimately got to is the right thing for the team and the environment," Robinson added.

"What you look back on, and we said this at the time, there are things [that] if we could have done again, we might have done differently."

The same could be said for the All Blacks.

Historic defeats at home to Ireland and Argentina, coupled with their largest defeat to the Springboks made for grim viewing.

While the ship appeared to steady toward the latter parts of the year, the All Blacks still blew a 19-point lead in nine minutes to finish the year with a 25-all draw with England.

All up, the All Blacks' winning rate for 2022 sits at just over 61 percent, with eight wins, four defeats and one draw from the past 12 months.

"We've talked about the fact that with the All Blacks, we want to win every game," Robinson said.

"We're working hard to ensure the team has the right support and level of resourcing to make that happen."

It's a similar story for the women's game, and NZR are keen to harness the popularity of the Black Ferns and the growth of women's rugby as a whole.

Starting with what they hope can become an expanded Super Rugby Aupiki.

"We're talking here about the opportunity to play crossover, cross-border finals with Australia at the end of that competition," said Robinson.

There's plenty of positive moves on the way, as New Zealand Rugby looks to leave a turbulent year behind them.