S.R.U. Chief Executive Officer, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, has confirmed to Radio New Zealand that Jackson has been chosen from a 40-strong list of applicants including Tafua. The process was undertaken to ensure the cash-strapped SRU continued to receive World Rugby funding.
Jackson said he was honoured and privileged to be chosen as the successful candidate. “I know full well it comes with great responsibility,” he said. “We will work hard and [are] determined to gain the respect of the rugby world…and confident we have the talent, skills and passion in the players to deliver for us at RWC19.”
Jackson played for Tasman, Auckland, North Harbour and Southland where he captained the side before moving into coaching at club level in North Harbour and Nelson, becoming assistant coach at Tasman, assistant at Counties Manukau before taking over as head coach of North Harbour. He then moved to the Blues as assistant coach.
The Samoa coaching position controversially became vacant after a Board meeting last month with the SRU claiming it had “no other choice” under pressure from World Rugby whose continued funding of the regions Unions is key to their finances. The coach will have to prepare Samoa for a World Cup campaign that sees them facing Ireland, Scotland, Russia and hosts Japan in Pool A.
Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Chairman of SRU and also Prime Minister, told local press the process was vital for the Union’s financial health. He explained: “Presently our annual budget is about $10million (US$3.7 million) and World Rugby funds the most. If the panel recommends our present coach, and accepted by the Board, then World Rugby will provide the funds.
“SRU is always cash strapped. You will recall that we did not follow the World Rugby process when our Board selected Tafua as our Manu Samoa Coach despite the fact the panel ranked him sixth, the reason being that Tafua’s record as former coach of Manu Samoa was quite good.
“Now that we raised the issue again with World Rugby, SRU was required to adopt the selection process of World Rugby in order for our request to be given the Ok.
“This World Rugby process is applicable worldwide and in the interest of attracting World Rugby financing we urgently need, we are left with no other choice but to observe World Rugby’s requirements which all Rugby Nations of the World also observe.”
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