Newshub's 2023 Year in Review: Major sporting headlines of November

The sporting stories that made the news over the past 12 months.


November 1

Departing All Blacks veteran Coles shuns retirement to sign on with Japanese club

Departing All Blacks hooker Dane Coles' next rugby move has been revealed and it doesn't involve hanging up his boots just yet.

Kubota Spears have signed Coles for the 2023/24 Japan's League One season, after he previously announced he would retire from professional rugby at the end of the year.

Dane Coles bids farewell to the All Blacks.
Dane Coles bids farewell to the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty Images

The 90-test veteran will join teammates Richie Mo'unga, Brodie Retallick and Aaron Smith, who are also Asia-bound after the World Cup.

Coles, 36, played his final test for the All Blacks in the famous quarter-final win against Ireland. He was overlooked for the final in a decision coach Ian Foster described as "probably the toughest I have had as a coach".

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Whitelock leaves darkened All Blacks jersey behind as he signs off on historic test career 

After a long flight from Europe, Sam Whitelock sports a freshly shaven face, as he makes his way to greet media at Auckland International Airport.

The departing All Blacks veteran insists there's nothing even remotely symbolic about the removal of his trademark beard.

"Had a few greys in so time to come off," he joked. "The kids were starting to pull at it too... I think my wife's pretty happy that it's gone."

Sam Whitelock bids farewell to the All Blacks.
Sam Whitelock bids farewell to the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty Images

Almost as swiftly as those whiskers disappeared came the end of his historic All Blacks tenure at Stade de France, where he played the last of his recordbreaking 153-test career in the World Cup final defeat to the Springboks. 

"I don’t think it will properly sink in until the All Blacks are renamed, and they actually run out there and play," he admitted. "It's a bit of a weird one at the moment, saying goodbye to all of the guys, as we were getting our bags.

"Some guys we've played 10-12 years with - and against - and it's kind of the handshake and a bit of a cuddle. That awkward one where it's like 'keep in touch and I'll see you when I see you' kind of thing."

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November 4

Foster bemoans lack of support from NZ Rugby amid Robertson appointment

Former All Blacks coach Ian Foster says he is "at peace", after taking the team to the World Cup final, despite feeling he lacked NZ Rugby's full support during his often stormy tenure.

In March, NZR appointed Scott Robertson to take over the All Blacks after the World Cup, against the wishes of Foster, who had urged the governing body to hold off on a coaching decision, until after the tournament.

Foster also nearly lost his job last year, after the All Blacks' first home series defeat to Ireland, but two of his assistant coaches were fired instead, after an NZR review.

Appointed after the 2019 World Cup on a two-year deal, Foster says NZR's interest in Robertson, the hugely successful Canterbury Crusaders coach, made his position awkward from the start.

New All Blacks coach Scott Robertson and old All Blacks coach Ian Foster.
New All Blacks coach Scott Robertson and old All Blacks coach Ian Foster. Photo credit: Photosport

"When I got the job, it always seemed to be under a condition, didn't it?" he told Newstalk ZB. "It was the two-year contract. 

"They had another candidate that half the people wanted and from then on, it was the lens that they looked [through] everything that we did.

"I wouldn't say there was a lack of trust, I just think, when you think you've got a plan B in your pocket, sometimes you don't back plan A probably as much as you could."

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Kiwis overwhelm world champions Australia to capture Pacific Championship crown

Two tries from winger Jamayne Isaako have inspired NZ Kiwis to a record 30-0 victory over world champions Australia for the inaugural Pacific Championship crown. 

Seven days after falling 36-18 to their archrivals at Melbourne, New Zealand gave them no sniff across this side of the Tasman, scoring five tries and erasing their previous biggest win - 24-0 at Leeds in 2005 - from the record books.

Australian coach Mal Meninga had rested star front-rowers Payne Haas and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui from the previous encounter, while counterpart Michael Maguire stuck to a line-up left licking its wounds from the defeat.

Kiwis celebrate a try against Australia.
Kiwis celebrate a try against Australia. Photo credit: Photosport

If the Kiwis were wearied from battle, they didn't show it, as they jumped on their illustrious opponents early, never letting them into the contest.

"We just kept believing," said captain James Fisher-Harris. "It wasn't how we wanted it to go last week, but we know the quality of players in our team and just the pride in the jersey.

"We really wanted to restore that, put the jersey in a better place and never stop believing, no matter what happened last week."

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November 7

Cane hit with three-game suspension following Rugby World Cup final red card 

The pain of the Rugby World Cup final defeat isn't over for All Blacks captain Sam Cane, who has copped a three-game ban for his red card at Paris. 

Cane admitted to an act of foulplay, but contested that his high tackle on South Africa's Jesse Kriel warranted a sending off. 

Sam Cane reflects on his World Cup final explulsion.
Sam Cane reflects on his World Cup final explulsion. Photo credit: Sky Sport/Getty

The independent disciplinary committee determined there was "direct and forceful contact to the players shoulder" and no mitigating factors.  

The committee cut the recommended six-match suspension down to three, due to Cane's "exemplary disciplinary record" and his "clear remorse".  

He can reduce it to two, if he completes a World Rugby coaching intervention programme, which will force him to miss the start of the season for his new Japanese team, Tokyo Sungoliath. 

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November 9

All Blacks star Barrett to sign new multi-year deal with NZ Rugby 

Beauden Barrett won't farewell the All Blacks jersey just yet, with NZ Rugby revealing the veteran first-five will sign a new multi-year deal through until the next World Cup.

NZ Rugby expects the two-time World Rugby player of the year will pen a fresh deal to remain in Aotearoa, making him available for selection for the All Blacks in 2024.

Beauden Barrett in action for the All Blacks.
Beauden Barrett in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty Images

Barrett, 32, will miss the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific season with the Blues to take up a one-year deal with Japanese side Toyota Verblitz, under the same arrangement as All Blacks teammates Ardie Savea and Sam Cane.

A new deal would mean he'd be able to return and play under new All Black coach Scott Robertson, before returning to Super Rugby in 2025.

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November 14

World Rugby reportedly concedes All Blacks' World Cup try should have been allowed

World Rugby has reportedly conceded Aaron Smith's disallowed try in the World Cup final against South Africa should have stood.

In the 55th minute, All Blacks first-five Richie Mo'unga broke towards the Springboks goal-line and found his halfback running a superb support line to take an offload and score what would have been the first try of the game, eventually won 12-11 by the defending champions.

Aaron Smith scores a disallowed try in the World Cup final.
Aaron Smith scores a disallowed try in the World Cup final. Photo credit: Photosport

The five-pointer was immediately overturned by referee Wayne Barnes and TV match officials for a knockon in a lineout across the field. 

Four phases passed between the lineout and the try, and Stuff reports World Rugby has privately acknowledged match officials had no right to review that far back. Rules allow a review of play only two phases previous. 

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November 17

'Stuff helping him': Blackcaps sportsmanship criticised in World Cup loss to India

Blackcaps sportsmanship at the Cricket World Cup has been criticised, with ex-Australia allrounder Simon O'Donnell taking aim at New Zealand's conduct in their 70-run semi-final loss to India.  

In the sweltering heat of Mumbai, as India batted first in the tournament's first semi, Virat Kohli put the Blackcaps to the sword with 117 runs, scoring a record 50th one-day international century.  

As the conditions took their toll late in the innings, Kohli began to cramp, with members of the Blackcaps side coming to his aid.  

Kane Williamson greets Virat Kohli at the World Cup.
Kane Williamson greets Virat Kohli at the World Cup. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Why would you go and help Virat Kohli when he had a cramp, when they're heading for 400 in a World Cup semi-final?" O'Donnell queried on SEN radio.  

"Spirit of the game is playing within the laws. Virat Kohli is tearing your country apart, and you want to go over and give him a hand.  

"Under no circumstances should you have gone within 20 metres of Virat Kohli, when he had a cramp."

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November 18

'Obviously declined': Weber's warning for NZ Rugby as ex-All Black adjusts to France

Brad Weber became one of the leading athletes using their voice for positive change and now he is using it to express concerns with our national game.

The former All Black has left New Zealand to take up a contract in France and now can't help but feel worried about the state of the game here.

After taking the step back from rugby in New Zealand, he can't help but reflect on what he describes as "an interesting time" for our national game.

Brad Weber in action for the All Blacks.
Brad Weber in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I'm not paid well enough to figure out ways to make it better and I guess I'd like to move into something like that maybe one day."

Weber pauses, clearly analysing how to word what he thinks.

"I've got heaps of little ideas, but then I feel like that old guy on the couch, just telling everybody what to do and I've got no real idea."

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November 23

Robertson 'might change a few things' after beginning All Blacks coaching tenure

Incoming All Blacks coach Scott Robertson admits he may have to change his ways from what's made him successful with the Crusaders.

From November 1, Robertson is now officially head coach of the All Blacks, succeeding Ian Foster in charge of the national side. He enters the role as arguably the most-anticipated national coaching appointment so far.

Since taking charge of the Crusaders in 2016, Robertson, 49, has won a Super Rugby crown every year, lifting the title seven times across three competition formats, but even with so much success already under his belt, he isn't completely set in his ways.

Incoming All Blacks coach Scott Robertson.
Incoming All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. Photo credit: Photosport

In fact, Robertson concedes he might just have to do things differently, as he prepares to open his account against England midway through 2024.  

"You've got your models, you've got your structures and you coach the best team in front of you," he told AM.  "I've got the way I coach, you don't change yourself as a person, but you might change a few things around your models."

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November 25

Warriors emerge as favourites to sign Queensland State of Origin forward

NZ Warriors have emerged as shock favourites to sign Brisbane Broncos forward Kurt Capewell, according to reports across the Tasman.  

Capewell, 30, is entering his final season with Brisbane Broncos, leaving him free to negotiate with other sides from November 1.  

Brisbane and Queensland forward Kurt Capewell.
Brisbane and Queensland forward Kurt Capewell. Photo credit: Getty Images

According to the Daily Telegraph, Capewell has travelled to New Zealand to meet with Warriors coach Andrew Webster, after the pair worked together at Penrith Panthers.  

In pictures published by NewsCorp, Webster and Capewell were spotted dining together on Auckland's Viaduct.

The Warriors would likely push to sign Capewell immediately to fill the holes left by the departures of Josh Curran and Bayley Sironen from the side that reached the NRL's preliminary final this season.  

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November 26

Kiwi Payne takes maiden Supercars victory as van Gisbergen denied dream farewell

Shane van Gisbergen's Supercars career has ended with a whimper, forced to retire from the season-ending Adelaide 500's second race, while compatriot Matt Payne took his first victory racing in Australia.

Matt Payne celebrates his maiden Supercars victory.
Matt Payne celebrates his maiden Supercars victory. Photo credit: Getty Images

In an almost poetic passing-of-the-torch moment, Payne, 21, comfortably took the chequered flag to finish his first Supercars supercars with Penrite Racing on a high. To make things even sweeter for the Aucklander, victory also doubles as his first podium finish. 

Starting second on the grid, Payne overtook newly crowned champion Brodie Kostecki on the opening lap and never relented, belying his youth for his first win. 

"It's so good, I've got no words," he said. "It's so awesome."

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