Rugby must shed self-interest: Hansen

Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland have a history of fiery exchanges. Photo: Getty Images
Steve Hansen. Photo: Getty Images
Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says self-interest has left rugby staring at a global chasm, calling on unity and a new approach to resuscitate the sport.

Hansen, whose 16-year New Zealand reign ended last year, said the perilous financial state of countries like Australia can't just be attributed to the coronavirus outbreak.

In an interview with Wales Online, he said the international game had lost its way and believes the complete halt brought on by the pandemic is an opportunity to collaborate and devise a new blueprint.

"We have an opportunity now to start with a blank page because you have got everybody putting self-interest to the side," he said.

"They know they could be gone if they don't do the right thing.

"You have one rugby nation, in the United States, who have gone bankrupt, we've got Australia on the brink, we know England have got a financial crisis. Everybody will have because you are not getting paid the TV rights and those are what makes the game go round."

Hansen has long pushed for a global calendar and is encouraged that both men in the running at this week's World Rugby chairmanship vote - incumbent Bill Beaumont and challenger Agustin Pichot - have a vision to align the hemispheres.

He supports any innovation to inject money into the game, including Warren Gatland's recent proposal of a one-off test between the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks next year.

Gatland's 2017 Lions drew their series 1-1 in New Zealand when the third Test ended in a contentious stalemate at Eden Park.

Hansen said a fourth test couldn't be called a "rematch" as different personnel would be involved.

"But what he's saying is let's have this game to try and help make some money because the game is in trouble."

In a wide-ranging interview with the Welsh website, Hansen said he regretted some of his own coaching decisions in the drawn Lions series and in last year's World Cup semifinal loss to England - two major setbacks in what was otherwise a triumphant eight years as New Zealand head coach.

He described two-time World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw as "the best rugby player the world has ever seen".

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