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Coaches: Top men bring wealth of experience
« on: September 04, 2007, 05:17:51 PM »

Top men bring wealth of experience
(Rugby News Service) Saturday 1 September 2007
By Nicolas Samier

PARIS, 2 September – John Connolly has been at the top of the coaching ladder for more than a decade and his fellow Pool B masterminds boast similarly impressive credentials.

John Connolly

John Connolly (AUS) was appointed coach of the Wallabies in February 2006 following the departure of Eddie Jones (AUS). He has enjoyed a distinguished club and state representative coaching career, and took the Queensland Reds to the minor premiership in the inaugural Super 12 season in 1996. He enhanced his international profile in France, first by winning the Bouclier de Brennus with Stade Français in 2000 and then taking the Paris club to the final of the European Cup in 2001.

After a short stay in Wales with Swansea, Connolly moved on to England to take the helm at Bath, and was rewarded with an appearance in the premiership final and the award for rugby director of the year in the 2003/04 season.

Gareth Jenkins

Gareth Jenkins (WAL) is a former flanker who played in more than 250 matches for Llanelli, including the celebrated 9-3 victory over New Zealand at Stradey Park in 1972. He took over as Wales coach from Mike Ruddock (WAL) in April 2006. Despite his decorated club career, he was never selected to play for the Welsh national team. During his 24 seasons as Llanelli coach, he led the team to several honours, including the cup/championship double in 1992/93, a first for the Welsh club, and victory over the then world champions Australia in the same year.

John Kirwan

John Kirwan (NZL) will complete back-to-back coaching assignments at RWC 2007. This time around, Kirwan will be in charge of Japan - he took charge earlier this year - having failed to lead Italy beyond the pool stages in Australia in 2003.

Kirwan, an elusive wing for the All Blacks between 1984 and 1994, will be hoping his team can emulate some of his own world cup playing heroics. He was a member of their World Cup-wininng side in 1987, scoring the last New Zealand try in the final against France.

Ilie Tabua

Assistant coach Ilie Tabua (FJI) was the obvious choice to take over following the departure of head coach Wayne Pivac in January. Tabua has been to two world cups as a player, the first in 1995 with the Australian team, and the second four years later as part of the Fijian side.

Ric Suggitt

Canada will be led by 48-year-old Ric Suggitt (CAN), who has been in charge since 2004. A former full back for Clansmen RFC, Suggitt was previously coach of the national women’s side and the Canadian Rugby 7s from 1999 to 2004.

While Connolly’s Australia and Jenkins’ Welsh side are favoured to fill the first two slots in Pool B, it is a safe bet Kirwan’s Japanese team, the Fijians under Tabua and Suggitt’s Canada will not disappoint and look to provide some surprises.RNS ns/jm/mr/gs
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