Simon Raiwalui has revealed he will not seek an extension as Fiji coach, saying he wants to return “home”.
While he impressed the rugby world with his efforts in France, and many Australian fans would like to see the former Wallabies assistant return to the fold Down Under, it’s understood Raiwalui’s next job is not with Rugby Australia or a Super Rugby franchise.
The former Flying Fijian captain turned coach join the FRU following the 2019 World Cup, where he became their general manager of high performance.
During his stint, he was pivotal in the Fiji Drua’s inclusion in Super Rugby Pacific. Under his watch, Fiji also won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics while the women’s side took bronze.
Raiwalui was asked in dramatic circumstances to take over from Vern Cotter earlier this year as Fiji’s head coach.
He not only led Fiji to a historic maiden victory against England at Twickenham, he oversaw their first win over the Wallabies in 69 years at the World Cup.
Their 22-15 victory over Eddie Jones’ side in Saint Etienne put them on the track to reach the knockout stages for the first time since 2007.
Although they stumbled against Portugal in a dramatic encounter in Toulouse a fortnight later, the losing point saw them knock Australia out of the World Cup.
Despite being heavy underdogs against England, the Flying Fijians came within a converted try of knocking over the 2003 world champions.
On Tuesday, less than 48 hours after Fiji was knocked out by England, Raiwalui confirmed he would not seek reappointment.
“Well I guess it is time to make it official, specifically what the next cycle will look like for Fiji Rugby…I will not be seeking an extension of employment with FRU past 31st December,” Raiwalui tweeted.
“Thanks again to the players, staff & all the supporters, it has been quite a ride!”
Where Raiwalui heads next remains to be seen, but The Roar understands he has already secured his next move.
Unfortunately for Rugby Australia, nor their Super Rugby sides, it’s not believed to be a role that will see him return to his former national union.
Indeed, Raiwalui spent 18 months with the Wallabies as he jumped on board Michael Cheika’s coaching team ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
Despite the Wallabies struggling in Japan, where they were beaten badly by Jones’ England in Oita, the lineout, which was overseen by Raiwalui, was one of the few areas that functioned well.
Raiwalui, who spent years away from his family during the Covid pandemic, did however hint that he would be returning to Australia, where his family remains.
“I have missed my wife & kids birthdays, our wedding anniversary, picking my daughter up from school, drinking a beer with my sons, walking the dog, etc, for the last 4 years…they have shared enough, it’s time to go home!” he tweeted.
Raiwalui could easily be picked up by a French club, where he started his coaching career, but schools in Australia would also be an ideal fit for a man highly regarded.
If that was to occur, it would also see Raiwalui stay in the Australian rugby ecosystem.
The former backrower’s demeanour and coaching style has been celebrated throughout the World Cup.
“I’m all about respecting who we are and who we’re playing. If you don’t treat people well, it normally comes back to you and if you don’t treat the players well and the staff well, they can turn against you,” Raiwalui told The Roar earlier this month.
“I’ve always lived off the philosophy, you treat people how you want to be treated.
“I love the game. It’s provided me everything in my life. I came from pretty humble beginnings in life and rugby gave me the opportunity to travel the world and play and earn a living and take my family to beautiful places, so I want to respect that.
“I can obviously get angry at times, but I like to control my emotions as much as possible.”
Raiwalui will be the guest on this week’s Roar Rugby podcast.