World Rugby and the Fiji Rugby Union today announced former Australian international and Melbourne Rebels head coach Alana Thomas will join the Fijiana 15s squad management team as Fiji’s selected Rugby World Cup 2021 coaching intern.
The appointment comes as part of a unique collaboration between the Fiji Rugby Union and Rugby Australia.
Thomas will join newly-appointed Fijiana head coach Senirusi Seruvakula and the wider management team, taking on the role of defence and skills coach under the RWC 2021 internship as Fijiana prepare to compete in their first-ever Rugby World Cup.
The Rugby World Cup 2021 Coaching Internship Programme is supported as part of the International Olympic Committee’s international development grant awarded to World Rugby.
The programme is an outcome from the comprehensive Women’s High-Performance Coaching review, with the report’s findings highlighting a significant lack of female representation at the high-performance coaching level.
The ground-breaking Coaching Internship Programme aims to address the lack of female coaches at the high-performance level across men’s and women’s rugby through the creation of quality deployment opportunities for aspiring elite female coaches in high-performance environments.
In line with the ‘developing inspirational leadership’ strand of the Women in Rugby 2017-25 strategic plan, World Rugby is committed to supporting the development of female coaches in the sport and has set an ambitious target of a minimum of 40 per cent of all coaches at Rugby World Cup 2025 to be women.
World Rugby General Manager for Women’s Rugby Katie Sadleir said: “It is fantastic to see both the Fiji Rugby Union and Rugby Australia working in collaboration in providing Fiji with a suitable elite female candidate to take up the Rugby World Cup 2021 coach internship position with Fijiana 15s. We wish Alana and Fijiana well as they prepare to compete in their first-ever Rugby World Cup.”
Simon Raiwalui, Fiji Rugby Union General Manager High Performance said: “Fiji Rugby Union is extremely excited to confirm that Alana Thomas will be joining the coaching staff of our Fijiana XV in preparation for next year’s Rugby World Cup
“Our newly-appointed head coach Senirusi Seruvakula has assembled an exciting diverse young coaching staff and we are very fortunate to be able to have someone with the skills and experience such as Alana.
“One of the main priorities within the Fiji Rugby Union is the development of women’s rugby within the country and Alana’s involvement will assist in the growth of our pathways for our women and girls.
“I would also like to acknowledge and thank World Rugby and Rugby Australia for allowing us to participate in the World Rugby Coach Internship Programme for RWC 2021, without their support a programme such as this would not be possible.”
RWC 2021 coach intern Alana Thomas said: “I am extremely excited to be appointed as an assistant coach of the Fijiana 15s team and take part in the World Rugby Coaching Internship Programme.
“Fiji Rugby has been creating a great pathway for women and girls and to be a part of their first Rugby World Cup is going to be a great experience.
“I’m looking forward to working with Seni, he is an experienced coach having coached the Fijian Drua within Australia’s National Rugby Championship, winning the premiership in 2018, as well as working with the Flying Fijians.
“I would like to thank Rugby Australia for their support throughout my coaching journey and the development which they have been able to provide. Their ongoing support has given me a great opportunity heading into this new role.”