Rugby-Fiji's Raiwalui to head World Rugby's 'development pathways'


  • Rugby
  • Wednesday, 29 Nov 2023

Rugby Union - England v Fiji - World Cup Warm Up - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - August 26, 2023 Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

LONDON (Reuters) - Simon Raiwalui, who stood down as Fiji coach after taking the Pacific islanders to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in October, has been appointed by World Rugby in a role to help the progress of the sport's developing nations.

As High Performance Pathways and Player Development Manager, Raiwalui's job will be to "support World Rugby's (WR) core mission of increasing the competitiveness of international rugby as the sport prepares for a new era of opportunity and growth," the governing body said in a statement on Tuesday.

As well as taking Fiji to their first quarter-final since 2007, the former Fiji, Sale, Newport, Saracens and Racing 92 lock was integral in the establishment of the Fijian Drua Super Rugby Pacific franchise and assisted the national women's team, Fijiana, to reach their first Rugby World Cup in 2022.

"Renowned for his passion for rugby across the globe and ability to build winning player development and pathway programmes, Raiwalui joins World Rugby’s Competitions and Performance function," WR said.

"He will support Director of High Performance Peter Horne to assist performance and emerging unions (formerly known as "Tier Two") identify, develop and fast track player development initiatives as well as support other HP rugby projects."

Raiwalui said: “World Rugby is passionate about growing our sport, increasing opportunity and certainty for more unions to break through. Underpinning all of this is player and competition pathways, something that I am passionate about and I look forward to contributing to what promises to be an exciting and challenging journey, ultimately increasing the competitiveness and impact of international rugby."

During this year's tournament in France, Raiwalui echoed the view of almost every Tier Two coach there in demanding more meaningful competition for those countries beyond the World Cup.

After Fiji stunned Australia in the pool phase, he said: "I would take more matches over resources. "You’ve seen what these boys can do when they get competition."

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “Simon joins the team at an exciting and pivotal time for the game with expanded men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups the pinnacle of major calendar reform, providing unprecedented certainty and opportunity for performance nations.

Horne added: “We have traditionally played a supporting role, getting teams who have qualified for a Rugby World Cup ready for the tournament. However, calendar certainty gives us an exciting new mandate to work with teams over a longer period of time to prepare them for not just World Cups, but new competition structures.

“With all his experience, his understanding of the needs of unions and the high-performance landscape for performance unions, Simon is perfectly placed to help us drive forward in partnership with unions to build a more competitive game on the road to Rugby World Cups in the USA (in 2031). We are excited to be working with him.”

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ken Ferris)

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