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Why The Coach Of The All-Ireland League Winners Is Better Than The Coach Of The World Cup Winners

Why The Coach Of The All-Ireland League Winners Is Better Than The Coach Of The World Cup Winners
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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When it was put to former Lazio manager Zdenek Zeman that Fabio Capello was a great manager, Zeman scrunched up his features and informed the interviewer that his dead grandmother could be put in charge of the teams Capello was given and they'd still win.

Steve Hansen led the All Blacks into the World Cup yesterday after four years in which their dominance was more pronounced than ever.

But we (playfully) contend that he still isn't as good a coach as Mike Ruddock.

Hansen coached Wales from 2002 to 2004, assuming the job after Graham Henry departed. It was a hospital pass. Henry's last game was a 54-10 loss in Dublin.

They avoided the wooden spoon in Hansen's first year thanks to a win over Italy.

They had no such luck the following year as Hansen guided the Welsh to only their third ever whitewash.

Interestingly, the Welsh talent for overselling themselves is evident even in their recording of this ignominious event.


On the WRU website, they recall how the 2003 Six Nations Championship marked the 'first time in Welsh history' that the national team had lost every match in the Six Nations Championship, successfully managing to make it look admirable that they had lasted so long without being whitewashed.

The website opts not to mention that the Six Nations Championship was instituted in 2000. They only had to go back to 1995 if they wanted to find their previous whitewash in the old Five Nations Championship.

In the 2002-03 season, Wales suffered a record eleven consecutive defeats. Not even the desperate Welsh team of the early 90s went that long without winning.


Things got better in Hansen's final year in the job. Their World Cup performance was respectable. They beat Italy and didn't disgrace themselves against either New Zealand in the pool phase or England in the quarter-final.

In his last Six Nations, they beat both Italy and Scotland but were well beaten in their other three matches.

He quit that summer and returned to New Zealand.


Mike Ruddock assumed the Welsh job and promptly won the Grand Slam. After a ropey 2006 season, he returned to Ireland and won a series of championships with the U20s. This year, he guided Lansdowne to their second All-Ireland League in three years.

So, Steve Hansen may have won the World Cup with New Zealand. He has been aided in this achievement by having the best players in the world. For all his advantages, it has to be acknowledged that he has done a fantastic job.

But the coach of Lansdowne will always have his record at Wales over him.


Read more: New Zealand Emigrants' Flash Mob Hakas Across Australia Are Breathtaking

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