Eddie’s Pacific passion

Eddie Jones, dumped as Wallabies coach a few months ago, will spend 2006 improving the state of rugby in the Pacific Islands.

The IRB confirmed that Jones will undertake a coaching unit review of the three Pacific Island Unions as part of the ongoing strategic development programme that is being managed by the IRB’s Pacific Islands Advisory Committee.

“The IRB is investing over £7 million (NZ$ 18 million) in the Fiji, Samoa and Tonga Rugby Unions in high performance initiatives and infrastructure and the establishment of new competitions,” PIAC Chairman Bob Tuckey told the IRB website. “To date detailed reviews of their requirements in terms of high performance management and programmes, player development pathways and facility infrastructures have been carried out. High Performance Managers have also been appointed in each of the Unions to help drive the high performance programmes and a new Pacific Five Nations competition, and a new inter-island representative competition will kick-off later this year.”

Tuckey added: “The next step is a closer examination of the coaching structures within the Unions and the IRB is delighted that a coach of the calibre of Eddie Jones, the former ACT Brumbies and Wallaby coach, will assist us in carrying out this review. Eddie has always been regarded as a forthright and strategic thinker, and one who has always had the interests of the Game at heart. His review of the existing coaching structures and processes in the Pacific Islands will give the Unions a bench mark of where standards currently sit and provide a blueprint for moving forward.”

Jones said: “The Pacific Islands are a hot bed of rugby and a renowned nursery for some very talented players. It is great that the IRB is assisting the Unions through such substantial investment that is strategic in its thinking and designed to put in place lasting infrastructure. Such investment highlights the commitment of the IRB to rugby in the Pacific and I am confident that it will not be long before we see standards improve across the board in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.”