Former development coach Simpkin passes away
One of the coaching gurus that helped develop our forward play has died at his home in Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand. He is George Simpkin, a prominent Waikato rugby coach. He became the national rugby team’s technical advisor to the 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand where they reached the quarterfinals.
Simpkin worked with the late national coach Ratu Josateki Sovau and manager Dr Josaia Taka.
“It’s really sad when we heard of his passing away,” Fiji Rugby Union’s chief executive officer John O’Connor said yesterday.
“George helped shaped the way we play and our condolences goes to his family.”
He started coaching at the Matamata Rugby Club as a 22-year-old player-coach back in 1966. An innovative thinker, Simpkin made his name as the longest serving Waikato provincial coach there has been, taking charge of the Mooloos for nine seasons from 1976-84, beating France, lifting the Ranfurly Shield off Auckland and getting the province out of second division.
From Fiji, he went on to coach in Hong Kong and spearheaded the development of rugby in Asia. He also coached Sri Lanka and the German’s 7s team.
While in Hong Kong, Simpkin took on a Canadian idea and went into manufacturing and marketing the world’s first rugby goal-kicking tees, which eventually replaced the traditional digging of holes in the pitch and then sand to tee the ball up on.
Top goal kickers like Joel Stransky, John Eales, Andrew Mehrtens, Dan Carter used them.
“My tees won three world cups,” Simpkin often says. He also formed the international clothing company Kukri before splitting with his business partner,” he said.
In a statement, Asia Rugby stated: “We are sad to share, that legendary coach George Simpkin has passed away In his home.
“We send our deepest condolence to his wife and family. May he RIP. He was one of the pioneers of rugby development In Asia.
“He was a mentor to many rugby players all across Asia. He will be missed by the entire rugby family in Asia.”