WELLINGTON, New Zealand: All Blacks coach Graham Henry, one of the world’s most successful coaches, announced Tuesday he is stepping down just nine days after guiding the team to win the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Henry said that after eight years and 103 Tests in charge of the All Blacks, with a remarkable winning average of 85.4 percent, he had “had enough” and had no desire to coach again.
But the 65-year-old, affectionately known as “Ted,” said he had turned down offers to join overseas clubs and would stay in New Zealand to assist in the development of local coaches.
“It’s been an enormous privilege to coach the All Blacks and I am exceptionally proud of how the team has added to the All Blacks legacy over the last eight years,” he said.
“I am also exceptionally proud of how they have developed an extremely professional and enjoyable culture and environment, and how they have reached out to people of all ages and put a smile on their faces, both here in New Zealand and overseas.
“So I want to say a special thank you and congratulations to all the players who have played during this time, especially to Tana Umaga and Richie McCaw, the two long-term captains.”
Throughout Henry’s tenure the All Blacks have predominantly been the world’s top-ranked rugby side, and he was the target of considerable anger in New Zealand four years ago when they suffered a shock loss in the quarterfinals of the last World Cup.
Now, he bows out a happy man after coaching the team to a cliff-hanger 8-7 win over France in the final of the latest edition of rugby’s showpiece tournament and said he had at last found “inner peace.”
Coaching “does take its toll,” he said, adding: “I didn’t particularly enjoy the last 10 minutes of the game against the French in the final of the Rugby World Cup” when the All Blacks clung to a 1-point lead.
Of the 103 Tests the team played under Henry, they won 88 including 48 of 51 home Tests. They have won the Tri-Nations tournament with Australia and South Africa five times, and have held the Bledisloe Cup, contested with Australia, since 2003.