For­mer devel­op­ment coach Simp­kin passes away

Fiji Sun - - SPORTS - LEONE CABENATABU­A Edited by Simione Har­a­vanua

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.”

George Simp­kin

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