Editorial: End of line for 'Dingo'

GRANT SHIMMIN
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2013

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I know for sure of at least one person, and anecdotally of a number of others, who turned on the All Blacks six years ago.

More accurately, it was probably the NZ Rugby Union their ire was directed at, but it manifested itself in some people - chiefly Cantabrians, I suspect - deciding to support the Wallabies in their encounters with the men in black.

The reason? The NZRU's decision to reappoint Graham Henry as All Blacks head coach after his unsuccessful attempt at winning the World Cup that year, which ended with a controversial quarterfinal defeat to France in Cardiff, and shun the claims of one Robbie Deans.

Deans had the credentials for the role, it was widely argued, having led the fabulously successful Crusaders to five of their seven Super Rugby titles in his nine seasons in charge.

The decision to reappoint Henry, after the All Blacks' least successful World Cup campaign, was understandably controversial, and it was no surprise when Deans took the position offered to him by Australia. There was a strong feeling in some quarters that the NZRU had missed a trick, and played into enemy hands.

Fast forward nearly six years and the situation is a little different. In his semi-retirement, Sir Graham Henry is working as an assistant to Sir John Kirwan at the Blues, two years after leading the All Blacks to a second World Cup title at home, and Deans has been sacked six months short of the end of his second contract, which was for two years.

The loss on Saturday night to the British and Irish Lions was the last straw for Deans, but in truth his tenure had been a patchy one, despite reaching the World Cup semifinals in 2011, when Henry's men comprehensively beat them, and scoring some good wins in South Africa.

So who was right in 2008? Well, that seems obvious, doesn't it? The All Blacks are world champions, Australia in disarray. Only time will tell if that's as easy an answer as it appears to be now.

Another sporting thing: You'll read plenty about it in the Herald today, including Simon Barnes' wonderful reflection down this page, so the briefest of mentions here for Andy Murray's maiden Wimbledon title.

What put it in perspective for me yesterday was a headline saying the Queen had already paid tribute to the Scotsman. Not that that was notable in itself, but the thought that no British man had won the title during her six decade-plus reign certainly was. Indeed, the monarch had yet to enter her teens when Fred Perry last triumphed in 1936. No wonder her subjects are so excited.

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- The Timaru Herald

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