All Blacks' continued dominance of international rugby would be "boring", claims 2011 Rugby World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry

Matt Jones 12/10/2017
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2011 World Cup winners New Zealand: (from l-r) Henry, Hansen, McCaw and Carter.

Graham Henry claims the All Blacks’ continued dominance of international rugby would be “boring” and believes his former team will face stern competition in trying to be the first country to claim a hat-trick of World Cup crowns in two years’ time.

New Zealand already broke new ground two years ago when they became the first side to retain the Webb Ellis Trophy by defeating old foes Australia 34-17 at Twickenham.

Head coach Steve Hansen kept a vice-like Kiwi grip on a trophy predecessor Henry had lifted four years earlier, 2011’s triumph seeing him become the first coach since 1987 to lead the men from the land of the long white cloud to a triumph a long time in the making – 24 years to be precise.

Since their second-ever World Cup victory six years ago, the All Blacks have been all-conquering on the international scene. They have lost just five Tests out of their previous 78 – dating back to that 8-7 win against France in Auckland.

There have been 70 victories, including a record-breaking 18 consecutive wins between August 2015 and November 2016. Despite this imperious form, however, Henry doesn’t feel the All Blacks are unstoppable.

McCaw lifts the trophy in 2015

Richie McCaw lifts the trophy in 2015.

“The World Cup is two years away and I was pleased to see Australia and South Africa improve a little in this Rugby Championship series because I think rugby needs competition,” said Henry, speaking to media at the Emirates Airline Rugby Long Lunch in Dubai on Thursday.

“It was pleasing because Australia and South Africa have fallen away pretty poorly in recent times. Against those two teams in the last two games against the All Blacks, they’ve been great contests with superb rugby. That’s really pleasing.

“It’s obvious the culture of the South Africa and Australian teams are becoming stronger and I think that’s good for rugby.

“There’s no point having one team much better than everybody else because that doesn’t create interest. When you’re not coaching you want a competition and when you’re coaching, you don’t.

“So going into the next World Cup, for sure I think teams can stop them. England are on a bit of a roll and have lost just one game since Eddie (Jones, head coach) took charge.

“The All Blacks will be favourites I would imagine in 2019, along with England, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, the usual enemies will all be out there.”

The All Blacks once again strolled to the Rugby Championship this year, winning all six games on their way to a 15th title in 22 years of the competition.

The triumph included crushing 54-34 and 57-0 victories against Australia and South Africa respectively. But the fact the Springboks rallied back from that demoralising thrashing in Albany to lose by just a point three weeks later in Cape Town, points to the possibility that Kiwi dominance could be on the wane.

“Possibly. Nobody has the right to be the best in the world forever,” said 71-year-old Henry.

“Australia were the best team around the turn of the century and then England were world champions in 2003. New Zealand didn’t win a World Cup for 24 years so there are no guarantees teams are going to continue to be successful.

Former British & Irish Lions and Wales coach Henry is of the opinion that New Zealand’s continued grip on the game is due to the fact that although it has changed immensely since he left the New Zealand post in the wake of that 2011 triumph, the All Blacks have adapted.

Henry (3rd l) and former Lions and Scotland full-back Gavin Hastings (3rd r) at the Long Lunch

Henry (3rd l) and former Lions and Scotland full-back Gavin Hastings (3rd r).

“I think what’s happening is the game is changing,” he added.

“I haven’t coached in six years. And the game’s changed immensely in that six years. What the All Blacks have done is been initiators in that change, their inventive.

“They didn’t score a try from their own ball initially against South Africa. Two turnovers and an intercept, whereas South Africa had to build their tries. Their ability to take advantage of opportunities is probably their x factor. And once they see the opportunity, they execute it.

“That’s probably the step other sides haven’t made yet. South Africa may have played the better game, but got beat by a point. So I don’t think the gap is too big. Which is great, it’s what rugby needs. It doesn’t need one team that’s unbeatable because that’s boring.”

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England, France handed tough Rugby World Cup draw

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England and France were drawn in the same pool alongside Argentina as they were handed a tough assignment for the 2019 World Cup on Wednesday.

Holders New Zealand were bracketed with South Africa and Italy, while hosts Japan got a kinder draw against Ireland and Scotland at a ceremony in Kyoto.

England’s draw in Pool C alongside age-old rivals France, and 2015 semi-finalists Argentina, evoked memories of their nightmare showing four years ago.

On home turf, the 2003 champions embarrassingly failed to reach the knock-outs after landing in a group with Wales, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

Twelve teams were included in Wednesday’s draw by virtue of finishing in the top three of their groups at the 2015 tournament.

Another eight teams from Oceania, Europe, the Americas and Africa will be added after qualifying for the tournament in Japan in two years’ time.

POOL A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1, Play-off Winner

POOL B: New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1, Repechage Winner

POOL C: England, France, Argentina, Americas 1, Oceania 2

POOL D: Australia, Wales, Georgia, Oceania 1, Americas 2

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Where to watch the Six Nations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

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There will be thousands of people in the UAE crowding around screens over the next six weeks as fans of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy watch their countries in action in the Six Nations.

With numerous places to witness the drama unfold, Sport360 has selected our pick of where to watch the Six Nations.

DUBAI

BARASTI
Where: 
Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, Al Sufouh Road – Jumeirah Beach

Promotions: 
A variety of deals on selected beverages.
Contact details: 
043181313 / Click here to see website
Social media: 
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Barasti.

Barasti.

One of the best venues in Dubai to watch the most prestigious tournament in rugby unfold. The beach bar will be showing all the matches on its giant screen, and there will be eight new TVs positioned around the front bar area. Food and beverages are served daily, with house beverages served from midday.

BIDI BONDI
Where: 
The Palm Shoreline
Promotions: 
Deals on buckets of beverages.
Contact details: 
044270515
Social media: 
Facebook

Bidis.

Bidi Bondi.

An Australian sports bar located on Palm Jumeirah, Bodi Bondi has a superb outdoor area and several flat screen TVs with projectors to allow for a more cinematic view of the games. The nachos, chicken wings and ribs are highly recommended for hungry fans. A lively atmosphere is guaranteed, particularly if England, Wales or Scotland are playing.

BRIDGEWATER TAVERN

Where: JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay
Promotions: Deals on buckets of beverages.
Contact details: 044140000
Social media: Facebook

Located in JW Marriott Marquis in Business Bay, Bridgewater Tavern is an edgy sports bar with a gastrodive feel, serving nouveau drinking food. Blurring the lines between bar and restaurant – Bridgewater Tavern is at the forefront of redefining sports bar culture, creating an ideal place for serious food lovers and thrill-seekers.

GARDEN ON 8
Contact details: 04271000Click here to book table online
Social media: 
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Garden on 8 is based in a great location in Media City, and will be showing all the games live on a large projector screen. Throughout the tournament they will be hosting ‘Garden Fest’ – a celebration of food, beverages and live sport. Brilliant atmosphere guaranteed.

GIRDERS
Where:
JA Ocean View Hotel on JBR
Promotions:
Happy hour 4-7pm daily
Contact details:
048145590
Social media: Girders The Walk

Girders offers a fantastic setting that unsurprisingly draws big crowds. With the largest screen in JBR, Girders is the self-proclaimed ‘home of the Six Nations’. The steak and ale pie is a must.

KICKERS,
Where: 
Dubai Sports City
Contact details:
044481592 / Click here for website
Social media: 
Facebook

Kickers.

Kickers.

The fun will continue as Kickers shifts indoors for the Six Nations. It’s a great chance to unwind at the end of a working week, while at the same time, enjoying the live rugby and some highly quality entertained. Kickers, the location for Friday Night Bar Live, is open from 12 noon to midnight every day and offers something for everyone.

LOCK, STOCK  & BARREL

Where: 8th Floor, Grand Millennium Hotel Dubai, Tecom, Dubai
Contact details: 0568347286 / Click here for website
Social media: Facebook

Lock Stock.

Lock Stock.

Tecom’s newest bar quickly gained a reputation for its plethora of sports screens combined with an on-trend urban vibe, which is the perfect to watch the rugby.

The 8,000sqm venue encompasses 11 TV screens, two fully stocked bars, one music stage and a menu full of Southern American classics from Maryland-style blue crab cakes to mac’n’cheese.

NEZESAUSSI GRILL
Where:
Manzil Downtown and Address Hotel, Dubai Marina
Contact details: 
044285888
Social media: Nezesaussi

Nezesaussi Grill.

Ultimate sports bar to watch the Six Nations in Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina, Nezesaussi is the perfect habitat for all fans. Its giant screens surrounding the bar make it a perfect venue to chill out and enjoy an après work drink.

IRISH VILLAGE
Where:
Garhoud
Contact details: 
042824750
Social media: Irish Village

Irish Village.

Irish Village.

A lively atmosphere for all the games and certainly if your an Irish fan, it’s one of the best venues to go. The traditional feel in the Irish Village makes for an enjoyable experience.

MCGETTIGANS, DUBAI AND ABU DHABI
Where:
JLT, Madinat Jumeirah, World Trade Centre (all Dubai) and Al Raha Beach Hotel (Abu Dhabi) 
Contact details:
043780800
Social media:
McGettigans

McGettigans.

McGettigans has four bars in the UAE: three in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi. With Ireland among the favourites for the Six Nations, this is by far the best place to go and show your support for the boys in green. With reasonably priced food, the chicken wings are a winner and never fail to disappoint.

COOPER’S BAR
Where:
 Park Rotana
Promotions: 
Happy hour deals are daily from 12pm-12am offering 50% off selected beverages.
Contact details: 
026573333
Social media: 
Facebook

Coopers.

Coopers.

One of the capital’s top sports bars, Cooper’s offers superb service and great choice of food and drink. With four plasma screens, you’ll have a great view of all the live action from the tournament. ‘Cooper’s Nachos’ and ‘Fried Calamari’ are among the best dishes on offer.

SPORTSMANS ARMS
Where:
 Zayed Sports City
Contact details: 024034235
Social media:
Facebook

Sportsmans Arms.

Sportsmans Arms.

Located in the International Tennis Stadium of Zayed Sports City, Sportsmans Arms is another great venue to watch the drama unfold in the capital. The American/Irish concept restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy food after taking in the thrilling rugby action.

NRG SPORTS CAFE
Where:
 Le Meridien
Promotions: Deals on buckets of beverages.
Contact details: 026446666
Social media: Facebook

NRG.

NRG.

Located in the heart of Abu Dhabi, NRG Sports Café is one of the leading sports bars in the capital. With a spacious surrounding and wide screen plasma televisions you won’t miss any of the action from the Six Nations.

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