Australian Rugby Union today announced Geraint John as the new Qantas Men’s Sevens Head Coach.
The 51-year-old joins the ARU from Rugby Canada where he has been Head Coach of the Canadian Men’s Rugby Sevens team since 2010.
John, from Carmarthen, Wales, takes over the reins from Michael O’Connor, who stepped down as Head Coach in February after six years in the role.
He will commence his duties for Australia on Monday, 23 June, before taking charge of the team for the first time at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.
John will then lead Australia into the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series, which kicks off on the Gold Coast in October – the first tournament of the Olympic qualification period.
After a playing career that included representative honours with Wales A, Wales B and selection for the Barbarians, John moved into coaching in 1992 and spent six years with Cardiff RFC and Cardiff Blues as Assistant Coach.
He also served under legendary Kiwi Coach Graham Henry as Skills Coach with the Welsh National Team from 1999-2001 and had a spell as Head Coach of the Wales National Sevens team.
He joined Rugby Canada in 2006 as High Performance Director and then became Head Coach of Rugby Canada’s Sevens team in 2010, where he led the country back to IRB core status in 2012.
John most recently led Canada to its first ever IRB Sevens World Series Cup Final in Glasgow in early May 2014.
“Australian Rugby is steeped in history and, in my opinion, the role of Men’s Sevens Head Coach is one of the best team jobs in the sport,” John said.
“While the prospect of coaching at the Olympics is an extremely appetising one, for me, the next tournament is always the most important. My first priority is to prepare and work with the players and to get to know them at the centralised base and then in competition at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.
“However, I am under no illusion that one of the key targets of the ARU is for the Men’s Sevens team to secure a gold medal in Rio.
While you can never guarantee anything in sport – and especially the Olympics – I am delighted to be given the opportunity to give us the best possible chance of bringing back gold in 2016.
“However, the first step for this team is to qualify. We need to make sure we have the best structure and program to make this happen.”
“We have many big challenges ahead in the coming months but a challenge is something I thrive on. Michael [O’Connor] has left behind an extremely talented squad. It is one of the youngest in the World Series and they’re continuing to improve. I am looking forward to meeting them on an individual basis and as a group next month.”
Australian Rugby Union’s General Manager – National Teams and Rugby Operations, Andrew Fagan, said: “Throughout the interview process, the ARU was unanimous that Geraint was the outstanding candidate.
“When we commenced our search there were three essential criteria that candidates had to meet. Firstly, experience coaching Rugby Sevens at international level. Secondly, the ability to drive an elite high performance, centralised program; and finally have the ability to grow and promote the sport of Rugby Sevens in Australia.
“Geraint showed a genuine hunger for the role of Qantas Men’s Sevens Head Coach and brings with him a huge level of experience and knowledge, along with a real passion to play an important role in the development of Rugby Sevens in this country.
“We are extremely confident that we have made an appointment that will build on the foundation Michael O’Connor has laid over the past six years.”
The selection panel involved in the interview process included Andrew Fagan, General Manager – National Teams and Rugby Operations; Ewen McKenzie, former Wallaby and current Qantas Wallabies Head Coach; Scott Bowen, former Wallaby and Australian Sevens representative and current Australian Women’s Sevens Team Manager as well as Mike McGovern, Deputy Director – Performance Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport – four men with a wealth of experience at the elite level of Rugby Union either in a playing, coaching or administrative capacity. Outgoing Men’s Head Coach Michael O’Connor was also consulted on the appointment.
Geraint John Factfile
Date of Birth: 9 July 1962 (aged 51)
Place of Birth: Carmarthen, Wales
Height: 178cm / 5’10”
Weight: 90kg / 12st 10lbs
Wales A, Wales B, Barbarians, World Presidents XV, Wales Schools, Crawshays
International Coaching Career:
2010-Present - Head Coach, National Sevens Team, Rugby Canada
2006-Present – Assistant Coach, Rugby Canada
2006-2009 – High Performance Director, Rugby Canada
2001 – Assistant Coach, Welsh Rugby Union
2000 – Joint Head Coach for Wales Development Tour of Canada, Welsh Rugby Union
1999-2001 – Skills Coach, Wales National Team, including 1999 Rugby World Cup
1998 – Head Coach, Wales Senior National Sevens Team
1997-1998 – Assistant Coach, Welsh Rugby Union, including national senior side, Wales A and U21s
1992-1996 – Technical Advisor, Welsh Rugby Union, including U19s, U16s and U15s
Club / University Coaching Career:
2005-2006 – Director of Rugby, Hartpury College
1999-2005 – Assistant Coach, Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC
1997-1999 – Head Coach, University of Cardiff Institute
1996 – 1997 – Assistant Coach Cardiff RFC
1995-1996 – Assistant Coach, Llanelli RFC