Malaysia Rugby Union appoint Rodney So’oialo as National 15s Head Coach
The Malaysia Rugby Union (MRU) have announced the appointment of formal All Black, Rodney So’oialo, as their national 15s Head Coach.
The Union posted the news on their social pages on September 23, 2021, and said: “The 41-year-old coach hopes that all the fans could be patient and trust the process. He will definitely be sparing no effort to prepare the team for the biggest tournament of Asia Rugby.”
Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) 2022
So’oialo is said to be “excited to start the job and ready to take every challenge in order to bring glory and triumph to the team.” The Union said the coach believes “with proper and decent preparation, Malaysia could give a fierce fight in the upcoming tournament” (referring to the Asia Rugby Championship scheduled for January 2021).
We assume he takes over the coaching role from Brad Mika, and the MRU added So’oialo: “hopes to improvise some of the good work done by Brad and try to make it better for the team especially on a tactical part.”
The Asia Rugby Championship will see three men’s XVs teams compete; Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Korea. The Championship also notably doubles up as the Asian pathway to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
For an Asian team to qualify, they will need to win the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship, and then take on Tonga. The winner of that match will qualify directly, while the loser will go to Final Qualification Repechage in 2022 (expected to be in November).
So’Olialo is an accomplished rugby player, and was most recently a coach and director of rugby at Trinity College Kandy, Sri Lanka, a Coach at Verona in Italy, and a Coach at Tawa Rugby Club.
As a player, he played for the New Zealand Hurricanes in the Super Rugby competition and racked up 62 test appearances for the All Blacks between 2002 and 2009, mostly playing as an eighth man. He also won the Commonwealth and World Cup Sevens for New Zealand.
International Rugby Coaches in Asia
The HKRU has had a number of quality international coaches take care of the national 7s and 15s programs and currently, former RFU coach Simon Amor is in charge of the Men’s XVs for the Asia Rugby Championship.
In India, a trio of South Africans have worked with the national teams of Rugby India, which includes former Springbok, Naas Botha.
In Thailand, the TRU have former NZ Sevens player, Lote Raikabula, as Head Coach.
Japan Rugby Football Union have previously had Eddie Jones in charge, and current NZ coaches, Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown have coached the team for several years.
Frano Botica is a former New Zealand All Black, and NZ Rugby League player, and recently stepped down from the PRFU Sevens program.
Asian Rugby Development
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- Ben Gollings: Coaching Rugby in Asia.
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