Henry fumes at Welsh ‘village idiots’ remarks

GRAHAM HENRY has apologised on behalf of the All Blacks and promised to “sort out” the New Zealand journalist who wrote an article dismissing Wales as the “village idiots” of rugby.

The New Zealand Herald columnist Chris Rattue kicked up a storm this week when he laid into the standard of Welsh rugby and their misguided rugby heritage.

It is 53 years since Wales last beat New Zealand and Rattue wrote: “It’s pointless going on about the great history of All Black and Welsh rugby because there isn’t one.

“If rugby between New Zealand and Wales was a boxing contest, they would have stopped it many rounds ago and revoked the Welsh licence.

“Let’s face it. Wales are rubbish. They are the village idiots of rugby union. They have fans who live for the game, administrators who’ve killed it and players who lie down for the cause.

“Wales had a brilliant team of never-to-be-forgotten players 30 years ago. Since then, they’ve totally stuffed it up and they’ll stuff it up again this weekend.”

The article enraged the local media, who have re-run it in full this week and urged Wales head coach Gareth Jenkins to pin the tirade to the changing room wall today.

But Henry, who coached Wales between 1998 and 2002, was quick to distance himself and the All Blacks from Rattue’s comments.

“I hope the Welsh people realise those comments are not representative of us,” said Henry.

“I’m very embarrassed by the article in the paper. I was very annoyed and angry, I still am, and I’m going to sort the fellow out when I get home.

“There’s 100 years of history between New Zealand and Wales and the two teams are very close in a rugby sense.

“I think we are closer to the Welsh rugby team than any other team we play against. The teams get together after the game and have a drink, we respect each other and we respect the Welsh people.

“Steve Hansen (All Blacks assistant coach) and I have both spent time here and thoroughly enjoyed those times.

“We felt very privileged to have had the opportunity to coach Wales.

“So for a guy to write that article makes me very annoyed. I apologise to the Welsh people about that article.

“You get one or two idiots in every village and we’ve obviously got one over there.”

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw does not fear Wales will have drawn any extra motivation from the article.

“You can’t get any more fired up than for a Wales v All Blacks Test match.

“We always make a point after each Test to go into the changing room and have a beer together. It doesn’t happen all that often these days, but these countries make sure we do that.

“We like the Welsh guys and enjoy their company.”

New Zealand head into the Wales game following a 41-20 victory over England and back-to-back triumphs over France, a thumping 47-3 rout in Lyon and a 23-11 win in Paris last weekend.

The All Blacks have averaged 37 points a game this tour — but Henry warned there is more to come as New Zealand attempt to break their cycle of peaking between World Cups.

“I think the team will definitely be looking for an improvement next year. Hopefully we’ll see another 10%, 15% or even 20% improvement,” said Henry.

“I think they are all maturing. They have been in the side a while now, this is the most experienced All Black team in the history of the game.

“This tour was a road test before the World Cup. We wanted to play well and win games. It has also allowed us to see how players and management reacted to being away for four weeks in this part of the world. And it has all gone up a couple of notches since last year’s Grand Slam tour.”

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