The International Rugby Board’s commitment to assisting players with options for future career pathways was highlighted recently in France. More than 30 Fijian professional rugby players are now well on the way to preparing for life after Rugby having undergone IRB levels one and two coaching courses at Narbonne Rugby Club.
The courses were coordinated by Fijian international Seremaia Bai, who is currently playing for defending Top 14 champions Castres Olympique in France. Bai, who has earned 49 caps in a 14-year career with the Flying Fijians, assembled 32 of his countrymen to undertake the training.
Bai said: “It was a great experience, very productive and refreshing. Coaching is very different to playing and the course opened my eyes to the fact that it is not as easy as I first thought and that I have a lot to learn.”
“My long-term goal is to coach Fiji but at the moment I am working on the basics and setting up a foundation for future coaching. I have been visiting villages and places in Fiji where I know there is potential and untapped talent providing them with some coaching and sharing my experience as a Rugby player in a professional environment.”
Keen to coach next generation in Fiji
Many of Bai’s colleagues are keen to begin their coaching career while still playing and many wish to return home to support Fijian Rugby at some stage. The IRB level one course is an introduction to the basics of coaching while level two is a fully integrated, continually assessed course that provides the basis for age-grade and adult coaching. It involves the participants coaching for six weeks, completing a coaching diary and being assessed in a team environment.
Bai added: “The feedback I got from the other players on the course is just awesome. Very positive and you can tell they are hungry for more. If courses like this are made accessible back home in the future it would be an even greater benefit and would really develop Rugby all around Fiji. Most of the players are looking forward to sharing what they have learned with their village teams and particularly the youth players.”
During the three days, the fledgling coaches underwent practical training in key factor and functional role analysis, player profiling, planning, selection, coaching style and process, and principles of attack and defence. The interactive classroom sessions were underpinned by peer practical sessions (coaching each other) and a session with the Narbonne Under 17 team.
Exceptional feedback from the players
“The feedback from the course was exceptional and the players were keen to explore further professional development opportunities,” said IRB Training and Medical Manager Mark Harrington, who delivered the course together with IRB coach trainers Marty Davis and Christophe Rouchaleou.
“The IRB is committed to helping these players and will continue to work with the players, Fiji Rugby, FORU and IRPA to coordinate future activities.”
IRB General Manager for Oceania William Glenwright believes Bai’s initiative has paved the way for similar initiatives for Pacific Island players playing professional Rugby around the world.
“We met recently with the newly formed Pacific Island Players Association (PIPA) for whom player welfare and preparing for life after Rugby is of paramount importance. I think there is a natural partnership here with PIPA to build on what Seremaia has started and we will work closely with them to grow this,” he said.
This feature forms part of our Around The Regions series exploring the game beyond its traditional heartlands. Do you have an interesting story to tell about Rugby around the world? Let us know by emailing email@example.com.
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