Respected New Zealand writer Gregor Paul suggests the All Blacks have an ‘endemic problem with discipline’ that’s had them become ‘the angry pub drunk’ of world rugby.
On Saturday, Argentina claimed a first-ever win over New Zealand in the 30th Test between the two teams, while condemning the All Blacks to their first back-to-back Test defeats since 2011.
Reacting to the shock result, after a match with a number of player altercations and niggles, Paul writes in the New Zealand Herald that there are problems which the All Blacks can’t seem to fix.
‘The All Blacks had nothing. Really nothing and rarely in the last 10 years, maybe even in the last 20, have they played with such a sense of being rattled and so badly outclassed. Argentina nailed every little and big part of their game. They were supremely brave in every facet and maybe a defensive effort like the one they gave won’t ever be reproduced.
‘They won’t care about that. All they know is that they have finally beaten the mighty All Blacks. They hammered them, in fact and reduced them to a shambolic, unimaginative, uninspiring body of players that couldn’t catch, couldn’t pass, couldn’t win their lineouts and, worst of all, couldn’t bring the same passion and intensity as the Pumas.
‘The All Blacks have such a proud record, over such a long time, and this performance will have to go down as one that shamed the legacy. They didn’t look like All Blacks. Not even for five minutes and five tests into Ian Foster’s coaching reign the All Blacks have done what they haven’t done in nine years and lost consecutive tests and what they haven’t done ever – lose to Argentina.
‘What’s now beyond dispute is that the All Blacks have an endemic problem with discipline. They have a problem with just about everything they are doing but it’s the way they can’t get their heads in the game that has to be the most worrying.’
Paul added that recent performances have shown that New Zealand were now the ‘hotheads of the world game’.
‘They have become the angry pub drunk – wrongly of the view that everyone is looking at them the wrong way or spilling their pint. It’s a problem they can’t fix.
‘A problem they won’t fix if Shannon Frizell can’t find a better way to channel his frustration. A problem if Dane Coles is going to be daft enough to slap people in front of the referee.
‘And it’s a problem that is illustrative of there being something almost fundamentally wrong with their mental preparation at the moment.’