Fiji Rugby have finally confirmed their coaching lineup for the upcoming Autumn Nations competition – and it’s laden with talent from across the globe.
New head coach Vern Cotter, who’s took over from John McKee following the 2019 Rugby World Cup, will be joined by Daryl Gibson, Jason Ryan, Glen Jackson and Richard Gray.
Gibson has coached in New Zealand, Scotland and Australia and played almost 80 matches for both Canterbury and the Crusaders. Ryan is currently forwards coach with the Crusaders and will likely take on a similar role with Fiji.
Jackson is perhaps the most unusual selection, given his lack of top-flight coaching experience, but his nine years as an international referee should give the Flying Fijians some insight into how the game is controlled.
In the Fiji Rugby Union’s official announcement released today, Cotter was full of praise for the high-quality group the union has assembled.
“I have been in regular contact with my coaching group for almost two months,” the former Scotland and Clermont coach revealed.
“Glen Jackson is good at handling skills and can sensitize and also give players a clear understanding of what referees see and how they act.
“This will help us a lot because if we can cut down the discipline and the penalties against us, it will make us less vulnerable,” Cotter said.
“[Gibson] has the maturity to help with the backline and we have Jason Ryan who has won three titles with Crusaders and brings all the standards in high performance probably from the best franchise [in Super Rugby].”
“Gray is someone who I have worked with in Scotland and in Montpellier.”
Fiji Rugby Chief Executive Officer John O’Connor has welcomed the four coaches and says he and his team look forward to working with them in the coming months.
“We have a very high-profile coaching team together with head coach Vern Cotter and I’m confident the Flying Fijians will put on an impressive show in their first-ever Autumn Nations Cup outing,” O’Connor said.
‘The majority of Fiji’s players are in French rugby already and it won’t be too difficult to perform’
– @chrisjonespress sounds out Alex King on how potentially successful @fijirugby could be at @France2023 with Vern Cotter soon calling the shots https://t.co/BCEBzlhriq
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 30, 2020
Meanwhile, the format for the Autumn Nations Cup will be two pools of four – Group A will include England, Ireland, Wales and Georgia with Group B comprising of France, Scotland, Italy and Fiji.
The Flying Fijians will kick off their campaign in the second week of the tournament in a blockbuster against fierce rivals France on Sunday 15th November, two years after they scored their thrilling victory at Stade France in 2018 and a match sure to delight fans around the world.
Fiji will then meet Italy on the 21st before heading to Murray field to play Scotland in the final round on the 28th of November.
The Autumn Nations Cup will conclude with a special final round of matches.
Based on the pool rankings coming into the final weekend, each team will face off in a cross over final against their equivalent placing, in the opposite pool.
Cotter is due to announce his squad in the coming weeks with the Flying Fijians tentatively planned to assemble in France around the 25th of October.
– with Fiji Rugby
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