The Latest: Hansen endorses Foster as All Blacks successor

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — The Latest at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Steve Hansen has endorsed Ian Foster to replace him as All Blacks head coach.

Hansen, who was Graham Henry's assistant before taking over as head coach and guiding New Zealand at the 2015 and '19 World Cups, says his current assistant has a "good head-start."

Hansen, who had a stint as head coach of Wales before returning to join the All Blacks coaching staff, said even if he wasn't asked by New Zealand rugby officials, "I'll probably offer an opinion."

"I guess with hindsight, because (Foster) has been there for the last eight years and done a fantastic job and understands what happens, he's got a good head-start over everybody else on what's needed, Hansen told a news conference Saturday, the day after the All Blacks beat Wales 40-17 in the third-place playoff. "He's known for a long time that I'll be leaving and he's put together a very strong team and if that team comes together they'll have a lot of ingredients that are needed."


2:55 p.m.

It's the first final since 2007 that hasn't included New Zealand. Not that you'd know it in Yokohama.

The streets leading to the International Stadium are filling up with rugby fans and many of them are wearing All Blacks jerseys.

Traveling New Zealanders would have expected to see their team in the final, given the expectations back home and the fact that the All Blacks won rugby's biggest prize back-to-back in 2011 and '15.

Instead, they had to make do with the bronze medal after the All Blacks beat Wales 40-17 in the third-place playoff on Friday.


2:45 p.m.

On the 44th day, there was the Rugby World Cup final.

The tournament that kicked off on Sept. 20 with host Japan beating Russia will conclude Saturday with two-time champion South Africa against England.

The Springboks are hoping to continue a sequence of winning the Webb Ellis Cup every dozen years. They beat New Zealand in 1995 at home and had a 15-6 win over England in Paris in 2007.

England's 2003 win — in extra time against Australia — is the northern hemisphere's only Rugby World Cup title to date. Eddie Jones' England team has had to beat two-time champion Australia in the quarterfinals and three-time champion New Zealand just to make the championship match.

Siya Kolisi, the first black player appointed as Springboks captain, is aiming for a piece of history.

Prince Harry will represent Britain's royal family at the final.


More AP Rugby World Cup: and

Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?