Breaking: Former Fiji boss Simon Raiwalui confirms his next move
Ex-Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui has revealed his new post-Rugby World Cup role. The 49-year-old captured the imagination when guiding the Pacific Islanders to the quarter-finals in France, their first appearance at that stage of the tournament since 2007.
Having only become head coach last February after the sudden exit of Vern Cotter, Raiwalui worked wonders in his short time in charge of the team.
However, he stated in October shortly after the defeat to England in Marseille that he wasn’t looking to continue in the job that was last week given on an interim basis to Senirusi Seruvakula, one of Raiwalui’s assistants at the finals.
France 2023 won’t be the last we will see of the Raiwalui’s influence at the World Cup, though, as he has now decided to join World Rugby as their high performance pathways and player development manager ahead of the expansion of the women’s World Cup from 12 to 16 teams in 2025 and the increase in the men’s tournament in 2027 from 20 to 24 teams.
A statement read: “World Rugby have appointed Simon Raiwalui in a key role to support its core mission of increasing the competitiveness of international rugby as the sport prepares for a new era of opportunity and growth.
“With expanded men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups the cornerstones of a reimagined global rugby calendar from 2025, which features USA’s groundbreaking hosting of the men’s and women’s editions in 2031 and 2033 respectively, Raiwalui joins the governing body at an exciting and pivotal time.
“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.
“In line with the federation’s central mission of growing the global game, he will support director of high performance Peter Horne to assist performance and emerging unions identify, develop and fast track player development initiatives as well as support other HP rugby projects.
“Raiwalui joins World Rugby having completed his contract as Flying Fijians head coach, and formerly general manager of high performance for the Fiji Rugby Union, after a highly successful period on and off the field across the men’s and women’s national team and pathway programmes.
“The former Fiji, Sale, Newport, Saracens and Racing 92 second row’s high performance credentials are impressive, having coached Fiji’s men to a first Rugby World Cup quarter-final in 16 years at France 2023, been integral in the establishment of the Fijian Drua Super Rugby Pacific franchise and assisted Fijiana to their first women’s Rugby World Cup in 2022.”
Raiwalui said: “World Rugby are passionate about growing our sport, increasing opportunity and certainty for more unions to breakthrough. 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.”
World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin added: “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.
“Simon is an experienced and successful operator who is able to understand how to extract the best from teams. His skill set will complement the wealth of experience and talent that we have within our high performance unit, working with Peter Horne and the wider team to implement strategies that add depth to the competitiveness of the international game.”
Director of high performance Horne said: “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. We are excited to be working with him.”