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Jamie Joseph returns to Highlanders in newly created role

By Finn Morton
Jamie Joseph, Head Coach of Japan looks on prior to the Autumn Nations Series match between England and Japan at Twickenham Stadium on November 12, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Japan coach Jamie Joseph will return to the Highlanders in a newly created position from next season, as confirmed by the club on Thursday afternoon.


Joseph has signed a four-year deal with the Highlanders, and will officially start his new role as Head of Rugby in early 2024.

The legendary coach, who led the Highlanders to their maiden Super Rugby title in 2015 and Japan to a quarter-final berth at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, will oversee the Highlanders’ rugby programme.

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As part of his new position, Joseph will be in charge of player retention and recruitment. Joseph will also support the coaching group, which includes mentoring head coach Clarke Dermody.

“I view the role as a great opportunity to give back to the club and the region that means so much to me,” Joseph said in a statement.

“I did my study at the University of Otago, played for Otago, and my family have enjoyed being raised and schooled in Dunedin.


“I thoroughly enjoyed my time as Head Coach of the Highlanders, so I am genuinely excited about returning to the south to offer my services to the club in 2024.”


Joseph originally joined the Highlanders as their head coach in 2011, and went on to lead the franchise to groundbreaking heights during his successful tenure.

But, ahead of the last Rugby World Cup in Japan, Joseph took up a position with the Brave Blossoms in 2017. Japan went on to reach the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time.

“I guess there are some similarities between the Highlanders and Japan,” Joseph added.

“When I first started with the Highlanders they were on a bit of a lean run but over time we were able to connect with the community and put together a successful team and coaching group. I can see no reason why that cannot be repeated.

“It was a bit the same when I first came to Japan, I knew we would have to galvanise the public behind the Brave Blossoms for the World Cup tournament to be a real success in Japan.


“The key to that was always going to be a lot of hard work and a team playing a brand of rugby that folks could be proud of and excited by.”

The Highlanders fell agonisingly short of a spot in the knockout stages of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign, having missed out on points difference.

Finishing with a record of five wins and nine losses, the Highlanders finished equal on competition points with the eighth-placed Queensland Reds.

But looking to usher in a new era of greatness, the addition of rugby guru Jamie Joseph is nothing short of genius.

“Whilst this is a new position for the club it is common in other parts of the world,” head coach Clarke Dermody said.

“I see enormous value in having a proven and experienced world-class coach like Jamie leading the overall rugby programme. The advice and direction he will bring is exciting from my perspective.

“I believe this is a positive step by the club and I am looking forward to working with him again.”


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