The dinner in Germany where Steve Hansen got stuck in England

The dinner in Germany where Steve Hansen got stuck in England

RFU boss Bill Sweeney hopes England can regain their consistency in the Six Nations and go on to win the World Cup so he can have the last laugh at Steve Hansen, the former All Blacks coach whose withering criticism of the English setup . at a dinner long ago in Germany has never been forgotten by the English rugby CEO.

Hansen led the All Blacks to World Cup glory in 2015, but it was while he was an assistant to Graham Henry, the 2011 RWC winner, that his path crossed in Europe with Sweeney in a way that is not forgotten.

Before joining the RFU as its CEO in May 2019, following a six-year stint at the British Olympics, Sweeney made a living in the business world and it was during his time at Adidas that he met Hansen and a All Blacks entourage.

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What was said about English rugby at a dinner party at the time has remained on Sweeney’s mind as he seeks to take the RFU to unprecedented levels of consistency with his national team, which is currently led by head coach Eddie Jones and Endorsed by Conor O’Shea’s designated under Sweeney as the High Performance Boss.

Sweeney recently recalled Hansen’s damning assessment of English rugby in an in-depth interview in Rugby Journal and concluded that he hopes to one day have a satisfactory last word on the matter.

“Every time the All Blacks played in the Northern Hemisphere, they would send eight or nine players to Nuremberg and they would be there for a week and they would do product testing and marketing appearances,” Sweeney explained of his business relationship with the New Zealanders.

“I was always dealing with them and their favorite restaurant was a downtown Japanese restaurant and I was there one night with people like Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Steve Hansen. At one point Steve stood up, raised his glass and made a toast, saying, ‘You are the only Englishman here and you won the World Cup in 2003, so fantastic, well done, but you will never win one again.’

“He basically said we don’t have the systems in place for sustained success, we just aren’t prepared to continually win. We had a great set of players in 2003, but that’s it, we will never win again. And that’s what really stuck with me.

“I would love to leave behind the best world-class high-performance system in the world, one in which we have always had a great opportunity to win a Grand Slam and we will always be among the last four in the World Cup. Bowl. And then I can put it up Steve Hansen’s nose one day.

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