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May 11, 2009 | by  | in News |
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The Tale of Ted

It should come as no surprise that decorated head of the cartel that bears his name, Graham Henry, wants another tout at the elusive Rugby World Cup. What we must remember is that the river of desire channels deeper than the much anticipated 2011 tournament.

The story of the man affectionately known as ‘Ted’ starts with early triumphs guiding Kelstons Boys High School and Auckland Grammar’s First XVs to numerous successes in the 1970s. The pages of Ted’s success begin to flow with speed and depth between 1992 and 1997, when he coached the Auckland provincial side four successive NPC championships (1993-1996).

Admired for the professional approach with which he infused his charges, the chapters of Ted’s success flicked easily through to rugby’s professional era, culminating in the winning of the 1996 and 1997 Super 12 tournaments, and a finals appearance in 1998.

When overlooked for the role of All Blacks coach in 1998, Ted sought redder pastures in Wales, guiding the Dragons to 11 straight wins and earning the pressure-free moniker ‘The Great Redeemer.’ His northern jaunt split and tore at the seams following his Lions’ team’s unsuccessful siege of Australia in 2001, and the Welsh’s embarrassing 54-10 battering at the hands of Ireland in 2002.

So he returned home and oversaw all matters defensive at Blues HQ in 2003, credited near and far for being a decisive factor in the side’s winning of the 2003 Super 12. And with the fall of one coach at the feet of a failed Rugby World Cup assignment, so came Ted’s time, taking charge of those donned in Adidas black in 2004.

Rugbynestias, with their eyes lost in the pages of recent sporting history, will be all too aware of Ted’s glorious successes and spectacular shortfalls. But in the midst of his most storied failure in 2007 comes, perhaps, his most important success.

Before the tournament many may identify as the defining moment of his 30+ year coaching career, Ted will be asked guide his charges through three international seasons— potentially 44 test matches—where nothing less than unbridled success will be accepted.

Further to that, he will be asked to define and craft the shapes of the 2010 and 2011 squads, many of which will feature moulds unshaped by the hands of the Headmaster.

Many will cite the man’s age as a mitigating factor; many will cast aspersions over his longevity in the job; and try as they might, many still struggle to forgive him for 2007.

It is, however, about more than six weeks in 2011. It is about setting a precedent of success unseen, unmatched and unrivalled in New Zealand sporting history.

With all that has come before him, with pages yet to be written, and a desire to hold the pen through to the better end, who is to deny Ted the right to end his tale on his terms?

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Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

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