Ex-Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui has revealed his new post-Rugby World Cup role. The 49-year-old captured the imagination when guiding the Pacific Islanders to the quarter-finals in France, their first appearance at that stage of the tournament since 2007.
Raiwalui, who took over as head coach in February of last year following Vern Cotter’s abrupt resignation, did a remarkable job throughout his brief tenure.
But he had said in October, soon after the England loss in Marseille, that he had no intention of staying in the position, which Senirusi Seruvakula, one of Raiwalui’s aides at the finals, had taken over on an interim basis last week.
Though France Raiwalui has now decided to work for World Rugby as their high performance pathways and player development manager, his influence at the World Cup won’t stop in 2023. This is ahead of the 2025 enlargement of the women’s World Cup from 12 to 16 teams and the 2027 expansion of the men’s competition from 20 to 24 teams.
As the sport gets ready for a new age of potential and progress, World Rugby has recruited Simon Raiwalui to a pivotal role to assist its primary aim of making international rugby more competitive.
“With expanded men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups the cornerstones of a reimagined global rugby calendar from 2025, which features USA’s groundbreaking hosting of the men’s and women’s editions in 2031 and 2033 respectively, Raiwalui joins the governing body at an exciting and pivotal time.
Raiwalui, who is well-known for his enthusiasm for rugby worldwide and his capacity to create effective player development and pathway programs, joins World Rugby’s competitions and performance department.
“He will work with Director of High Performance Peter Horne to help performance and emerging unions identify, develop, and expedite player development initiatives as well as support other HP rugby projects, all in keeping with the federation’s core mission of expanding the global game.”
“Raiwalui, who was formerly the general manager of high performance for the Fiji Rugby Union, has concluded his tenure as head coach of the Flying Fijians and is joining World Rugby following a tremendously successful time both on and off the field with the men’s and women’s national teams and pathway programs.
“The high performance credentials of the former Fiji, Sale, Newport, Saracens, and Racing 92 second row are impressive; he guided Fiji’s men to their first Rugby World Cup quarterfinal in sixteen years in France in 2023, played a key role in the formation of the Fijian Drua Super Rugby Pacific franchise, and helped Fijiana reach their first Rugby World Cup in women’s rugby in 2022.”
According to Raiwalui, World Rugby is committed to developing the game and providing more chances and assurances for more unions to succeed. All of this is based on player and competition paths, which I am really excited about. I look forward to helping on what looks to be an interesting and demanding journey that will eventually increase the impact and competitiveness of international rugby.
“Simon joins the team at an exciting and pivotal time for the game,” remarked World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin. “With expanded men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups serving as the culmination of major calendar reform, offering unprecedented certainty and opportunity for performance nations.”
“Simon is a skilled and accomplished operator who has the ability to recognize how to bring out the best in groups. His skill set will work in concert with Peter Horne and the rest of the team to develop initiatives that deepen the competitiveness of the international game, enhancing the wealth of expertise and talent we already have inside our high performance unit.
“We have traditionally played a supporting role, getting teams who have qualified for a Rugby World Cup ready for the tournament,” said Horne, director of high performance. But with calendar certainty comes an exciting new responsibility to engage with teams across longer time frames to get them ready for new competition formats as well as World Cups.
“With his wealth of experience, his comprehension of union demands, and his grasp of the high-performance environment for performance unions, Simon is ideally positioned to support us as we go ahead in collaboration with unions to develop a more competitive game in preparation for the Rugby World Cups in the USA. We can’t wait to collaborate with him.