Former Bath head coach Tabai Matson says he is “honoured and humbled” to be appointed the backline coach for the Fiji Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan.


Matson had to quit Bath for personal reasons and returned to New Zealand and is currently an assistant coach with the Chiefs in Super Rugby having been the Fiji backs coach at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Matson has been brought on board by head coach John McKee and also has experience as a defence coach which will be needed following the decision not to include Reds defence coach Peter Ryan in the management group for the tournament.

Matson will be involved in Fiji’s matches in the Pacific Nations Cup and the warm up games for Japan which include two tests with the Maori.

Matson told SUNsport: “It is always great to be back for duty for my motherland, every time I come here for me personally, is exciting and a privilege. This is one of the greatest rugby nations in the world, the atmosphere the Fijian people give is something else, it’s always a pleasure to be here.

“I am so excited, privileged and really proud that I get the honours to coach Fiji. The task is clearly just a few weeks away and I am honoured and humbled to be part of the team to the World Cup.“

Fijian-born Matson made 58 appearances for Canterbury and played 25 games for the Crusaders in the 1990s, before continuing his playing career abroad. He played two tests for Fiji at the 1999 World Cup. Matson joined Canterbury as assistant coach in 2009, a role he held for three seasons before being promoted to head coach in 2012. He led Canterbury to their fifth successive national provincial championship title in his maiden year at the helm.


In 2013 he joined the Crusaders coaching team and was also appointed assistant coach of the Maori All Blacks that same year, working alongside Colin Cooper for his three years. Matson had to quit Bath in 2017 having arrived at the West Country from the Crusaders with Todd Blackadder, the director of rugby.

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