Australian Rugby has today announced that former Wallaby Stephen Larkham will no longer act as the national side’s assistant coach but will transition to a new role as national high performance coach advisor.
Larkham is a former World Cup-winning Australian Out-Half and was recently inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. He joined the Wallabies as attack coach after cutting his teeth with the ACT Brumbies. He has been with the Wallabies as attack coach since his appointment in 2015 which included their RWC 2015 campaign.
Larkham will move into the new role with immediate effect after a decision was made by head coach Michael Cheika that Larkham should no longer continue in the role of assistant coach of the Wallabies.
Larkham’s new position will focus on coach mentoring, coaching and skills development across the Australian Sevens program, Junior Wallabies, State U20s Academies, and Buildcorp Wallaroos.
Stephen Larkham said in a statement:
“Ultimately Michael is responsible for the performance of the team. We have differences in attacking strategy and overall game philosophy. We couldn’t agree on these key points and it is in the best interest of the team that they receive clear and consistent messages from their coaches.
“I am obviously disappointed with this outcome as I had chosen to pursue the experience of taking the Wallabies through to the World Cup, however I am pleased to be able to continue coaching and contributing to Australian Rugby in this new role,” said Larkham.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said:
“We are very pleased that Stephen has agreed to take on this role. He was one of our greatest ever Wallabies and has developed a strong depth of experience during his coaching roles with the Brumbies and Qantas Wallabies.
“It was very important from Rugby Australia’s perspective to retain Stephen’s services and to ensure his experience is used to grow and develop coaches and players in our next generation.
“We will also look to support Stephen in his transition into another Head Coach role,” said Castle.
Rugby Australia also confirmed today the departure of Wallabies Head of Athletic Preparation, Haydn Masters.
Fiji Announce New Head Coach
Fiji have confirmed the man who will take over from former head coach John McKee
Fiji have announced that former Scotland head coach Vern Cotter will take the reigns as head coach of the national side come the end of the current club season.
Cotter is currently working at Top 14 outfit Montpellier, but the Kiwi will leave his role at the end of the campaign and link up with the Flying Fijian team.
The 57-year-old is excited to have the opportunity to coach such a talented squad and hopes they can improve in the years to come.
“Fiji Rugby has come a long way in the last few years and I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with the talent within the national teams and enhance the competitiveness of Fiji on the world stage,” he said.
Cotter takes over from former head coach John McKee who was in charge of the team from 2014 until the end of their Rugby World Cup campaign last year. In that time McKee was rather successful as he oversaw wins over first tier nations France, Scotland and Italy, as well as claiming four Pacific Nations Cups during that time.
However, his time with the side came to an unfortunate end as they crashed out of the World Cup pool stages during which they were defeated by minnows Uruguay.
Speaking on Cotter’s arrival chairman commander of Fijian Rugby Francis Kean was delighted to have a coach of his calibre come on board and is looking forward to seeing what the future holds under his charge.
“Following an extensive recruitment process with many outstanding applications, the board is pleased to have secured such an exceptional candidate in Vern Cotter for the top job of Flying Fijians head coach. Mr Cotter presented a thorough and detailed plan to take the team to new levels of success and we were impressed by his vision and expectations of what can be achieved by the programme. We believe he will drive a culture of high-performance, fitness and discipline standards that are necessary to achieve success on the global stage,” he said.
Cotter will bring a huge amount of experience to the team having led the Scots to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2015 and holding the most successful record of any Scotrish head coach in the professional era. While at club-level, he has been part of back to back Super Rugby title wins with the Crusaders, as well as leading Clermont to a Top 14 title in 2010.
Fiji will hope that he can take their extremely talented squad and help mould them into a team that fills its potential at last.
New Springboks Head Coach Announced
The Springboks have confirmed their new coach and his coaching staff
The Springboks have confirmed that Jacques Nienaber has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach.
Nienaber takes over from World Cup winning coach Rassie Erasmus, who has moved to the director of rugby role and the new head coach will report directly to Erasmus in his new position.
Speaking on the unveiling Erasmus believed that Nienaber is the perfect man to take over from him due to his experience with the side already.
“Jacques is highly experienced and has worked with the Springboks on three separate occasions now so knows exactly what the job is about. Jacques will be responsible for the Test match preparation and day-to-day team operations but, as the director of rugby, I will be with the team for the majority of the time and in the coaches’ box with Jacques at matches. I’ll still be responsible for the strategy and results with Jacques taking operational control. The structure allows the director of rugby to spend more time on other aspects of the role,” he said.
Nienaber himself is delighted to have the chance to manage the reigning World Cup holders and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“This is a massive honour and responsibility, but I have a good understanding of what it entails, especially in this new structure. I’ve worked with Rassie in a coaching capacity for nearly two decades now and we have a very good idea of how each of us thinks and as I’ll still be reporting to him our working relationship won’t be changing. It’s a big step-up for me in terms of carrying the day-to-day leadership role and there will be other adjustments but in many ways, it will also be business as usual. We’ve built up a good culture over the past two years and we’ll simply be looking to extend that,” he said.
Elsewhere, there is a tactical shuffle of coaches with Nienaber’s promotion as Mzwandile Stick coming into the assistant coach role, while former Ireland international Felix Jones remains in the set-up, but is now a European-based coaching consultant.
There are two new appointments as well in the coaching set-up with Deon Davids and Daan Human, the Bulls scrum coach, sharing the role of the forwards coach, taking over from Matt Proudfoot.
The changes are at a minimal to try and keep the harmony with the current squad following their incredible season last year and they will be hoping to continue where they left off later this year.
Borthwick Confirms New Job Already
Steve Borthwick confirmed his departure from the England set-up yesterday and less than 24 hours his new role has been announced
It is a move that has been rumoured for some time and with Borthwick announcing his departure from the England set-up yesterday after over four years with them, many expected that he would be heading in the Tigers direction.
However, the speed at which the confirmation has come about is the only surprise, but the former England international is delighted to be given the chance to manage the Tigers after learning so much from working with Eddie Jones since 2012.
“The last four-and-a-half years working with the England team has been an incredible journey. I have worked with some brilliant players and staff. In particular, I would like to thank Eddie Jones. To have worked with one of the greatest head coaches in the world for so long has been an unbelievable experience. I’m delighted to be joining Leicester Tigers as head coach. The Tigers have such a long and successful history and are one of the greatest rugby clubs in the game. Welford Road, with the special atmosphere created by the club’s incredible supporters roaring their team forward, is a very special place to be. We must now work to build upon that great history and create our future to get this club to the top of European rugby. It is a brilliant challenge and I am excited to start working with the players and everybody associated with the team. Geordan provides a link with the club’s greatest teams and we will be working together to ensure that there are many successful days ahead for this club, and for our supporters to enjoy,” he said.
He will be welcomed into the club with open arms after being part of the Japanese national set-up that stunned the world at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, before switching to England where he has won two Six Nations titles and reached a World Cup final.
His arrival sees current head coach Geordan Murphy changes his role at the club, taking up the position of director of rugby and club chairman Peter Tom believes that the two former stars can build back a Tigers team that has struggled lately.
“The appointment of Steve Borthwick as head coach and Geordan Murphy in the role of director of rugby provides an exciting combination of leadership, expertise and experience to drive the club forward in its desire to challenge for major honours again. The club has enjoyed many of its greatest successes with a blend of the Tigers DNA alongside fresh, innovative ideas from outside, both among the players and the coaching staff, and we look forward to Geordan and Steve leading that in their respective new roles,” he said.
Both Borthwick and Murphy will be hoping to bring the Premiership side back to the top level of the game come next season, but before then they have their separate tasks, with Borthwick guiding England through the upcoming Six Nations, while Murphy attempts to take the Tigers further up the Premiership table.
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