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Graham Henry (Sir)

Legendary All Black rugby Coach

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Consultant, Sporting Icon, Speaker

Inspiring, Insightful, Engaging, Impactful, Savvy, Down to earth, Highly Credible, Humorous

Business, Communication, Inspiration, Leadership, Management, Resilience, Teams, Sporting icon, Sport, After dinner

Sir Graham Henry is a legendary All Black rugby coach - he's an author, an inspirational speaker and one of the most successful rugby coaches of all time!  

Graham coached the All Blacks to 88 wins in 103 tests (a winning percentage of 85%) and to winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup!   Early in 2012 he released his book "Graham Henry: Final Word'  (after teaming up with rugby author Bob Howitt) to relate his personal account of the drastic measures he took to change the culture within the All Blacks and set them on the path to becoming world champions.

His first major rugby role was as coach of the successful Auckland provincial rugby team from 1992 to 1997.   Previously, he taught at two schools known for their rugby prowess – Auckland Grammar School and Kelston  Boys' High School where he coached both their first XVs. He was later appointed deputy headmaster of Kelston and became principal in 1987 where he stayed until 1996 when he resigned to become a full time coach.

In 1998, Sir Graham left New Zealand to coach Wales and led his side to eleven consecutive victories.  This result gained him celebrity status in Wales and he was appointed coach of the British and Irish Lions (the first outside of the Home Nations) for their 2001 tour to Australia.

He returned to NZ in 2002 where he was appointed defensive coach of the Blues during their successful 2003 Super 12 season and in 2004 he became the All Blacks coach.  He appointed his former Wales assistant Steven Hansen as forwards coach, Wayne Smith as attack coach and he was responsible for defence himself.  He also recruited Sir Brian Lochore as a selector – the three were often referred to as the “Three Wise Men” due to their collective experience and success.

Success finally came in 2005 for the All Blacks in their 3-0 series defeat of the British & Irish Lions.  He then coached the All Blacks to 2005 Tri-Nations victory (where they lost their only match of 2005) and their second ever Grand Slam over the 4 Home nations later in the year.  The All Blacks were named 2005 IRB International Team of the Year and Sir Graham as Coach of the Year.

In 2006, after winning the Tri-Nations that year and winning all end-of-year Tests in the tour of England, France and Wales, Sir Graham  won the IRB Coach of the Year again that year.  The All Blacks were also named IRB International Team of the Year and captain Richie McCaw Player of the Year.

Despite such successes, Graham’s  All Black coaching career was in question after New Zealand lost to France 20–18 in their 2007 World Cup quarter-final.  However, to his credit he re-applied for the post and his contract was extended for a further two years.

In July 2009, Graham was reappointed as the coach of the All Blacks through till the end of 2011. This contract saw him coaching the All Blacks through the 2011 Rugby World Cup which was held in New Zealand and won by the All Blacks beating France 8-7 in a “nail biting” final!

At the IRB Awards in 2011, Sir Graham and his team both captured awards. The All Blacks were named IRB International Team of the Year and Graham Henry IRB International Coach of the Year for the 5th time.

On 1 November 2011, he announced he would be stepping down as coach finishing his All Blacks career as one of the most successful rugby coaches of all time: he coached the All Blacks to 88 wins in 103 tests for a winning percentage of 85.4 percent. 

Graham was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 New Year Honours, for services to rugby.  In Feb 2012 he and the 2011 All Blacks scooped the top spots at the 2011 Halberg Awards taking out the Supreme Award, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year and Sportsman of the Year for Richie McCaw.

Graham held a part-time role with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) mentoring the nation's up and coming coaches. He says I have always been keen to help people grow and develop their skills and to now move into a position of mentoring our leading coaches is something I'm really looking forward to - New Zealand has an outstanding crop of up and coming international coaches and if I can play a small part in helping them develop then I will'.

Graham has assisted the Auckland Blues with coaching and individual player development where his skills and experiences were of great value. He was also hired as a part-time consultant to help the Argentina national rugby team develop their style of rugby and after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, they moved up in the international rankings. More recently he has been called on to mentor the NZ Warriors Rugby League coaching staff and players.

In 2914 Graham released his second book "The World Cups! - 1987-2015 ... a celebration of the 7 Rugby World Cups with contributions from Sir Brian Lochore, Bob Howitt and Peter Bush. 

Graham is also keeping on the pulse in the business world as a shareholder in the successful coaching website and often featuring on podcasts with coaching tips. He is also on the Board of Directors of recruitment professionals, the VNM Group.

Sir Graham is an inspiring and engaging speaker in the areas of leadership, people development, team development and high performance environments and how that relates to business.