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Reward Joseph for 'overcoming prejudice'

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'It's hard for brown/black people to even be considered to coach'

Former Samoa international Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has said that Japan head coach Jamie Joseph is his choice to be named World Rugby coach of the year because of the prejudice that he has had to overcome. 

The former Gloucester centre said on Twitter: “It’s hard for brown/black people to even be considered to coach.” That makes Joseph’s achievement all the more impressive, as he comes from Maori descent. 

The 39-year-old Fuimaono-Sapolu has always fought for the rights of Pacific Island players, believing that are poorly treated by World Rugby. This has got him into trouble in the past, noticeably in 2011 during the World Cup. 

Fuimaono-Sapolu added: “Most coaches World Rugby force on Pacific are white. We might be 40 per cent of World Cup players but we’re only 2 per cent of coaching staff and 0 per cent of referees.”

Overcoming this ‘prejudice’ to be on the shortlist alongside Eddie Jones, Rassie Erasmus, Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen is why the 23-cap Samoa international thinks Joseph should win the esteemed award. 

Fuimaono-Sapolu continued that Joseph is worthy of the award for “how brilliant Japan were” after he guided them to their first ever World Cup quarter-final. The Brave Blossoms fell to South Africa in the last eight but gave Rassie Erasmus’ side a stern test, particularly in the first half where they were only trailing 5-3 at the interval. 

Joseph’s side beat both Ireland and Scotland in the pool stages, but it is the manner in which they won is what has made him such a unique coach. 

The style in which Japan played in the RWC has been a breath of fresh air. The frenetic pace they adopted and the pinpoint accuracy of their distribution differentiated them from the rest of the rugby world and former All Black Joseph should be commended for that. 

In light of Fuimaono-Sapolu’s view of the prejudice that he has also faced, it makes a compelling argument for Joseph to be named coach of the year at World Rugby’s awards function in Tokyo on Sunday.

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'It's hard for brown/black people to even be considered to coach'