Following an extensive global recruitment and review of over 90 applications, USA Rugby today announced the appointment of Sione Fukofuka as the new Women’s Eagles XVs Head Coach.
Fukofuka comes to USA Rugby having spent the last three years as an Assistant Coach with Rugby Australia and the Wallaroos, helping them to a record-high finish at Rugby World Cup 2021, and qualification to the inaugural WXV1. A high-energy leader with over 30 years of experience in rugby as a player and a coach, Sione aims to inspire athletes to develop and succeed within a positive culture. Fukofuka will relocate to the United States in 2023, beginning with an eye on next year’s Pacific Four Series and Rugby World Cup qualification.
USA Rugby General Manager of High Performance, Tamara Sheppard said on Fukofuka’s appointment, “Sione brings with him a wealth of experience and a desire to lead a program that is highly engaged and intent on driving a positive high performance culture. We’re excited to work alongside him in creating a program that connects the players and staff, elevates the caliber of performance and builds an all-in campaign towards Rugby World Cup 2025.”
Fukofuka added, “I was drawn to this opportunity as I see the huge potential in the program. Having coached against the team, there are some key qualities that standout and it is those qualities that have driven the USA to the top three in the world before and has the potential to again return the team to that position. The players are athletic, physical and love the combative nature of the game. The opportunity to build on this platform and reconnect the team to its identity is something that excited me about this head coaching role.”
Fukofuka additionally spent 2023 as an Assistant Coach with the Queensland Reds in the newly launched Super W competition. Prior to that, he served as Director of Rugby for Canterbury College, leading them to an undefeated season in 2020, as well as Sevens Program Director for Brisbane State High School, leading them to four premiership titles. Fukofuka’s experience across multiple levels of rugby in a development landscape similar to the United States will be a welcomed experience for the Women’s Eagles program, as the pathway and foundation into the senior national team look to expand connectivity. With the Women’s Eagles set to reconvene in the early part of next year, Sione will have an opportunity to in the interim to connect with the current playing group, review structures and closely understand the women’s rugby ecosystem across the United States.
Sione said on his goals with the USA, “I hope to bring a level of professionalism and leadership to the program in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 2025 and beyond. My experience in the international women's game over the past two years has shown me that all programs are improving and raising the performance standards to new levels, physically and rugby-wise. It is my intention to build a strong coaching and management team to help drive a high-performance environment that challenges the playing group but also supports development, both individually and collectively. Technically and tactically, it is important the team is improving each time we assemble and play. 2024 will be an important year in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup, in terms of building depth but also implementing key processes that allow us to get results and play a style of rugby that is both effective but also embodies the identity of USA Rugby.”
USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young concluded, “We’re expecting exponential growth through the Women’s XVs program over the coming years, with Rugby World Cup 2025 quickly approaching and the squad looking ahead at qualification next summer. Sione will be an instrumental piece to that trajectory, we’re thrilled to have his experience and passion on board. USA Rugby and the Women’s Eagles leadership group have been intent on elevating the standard of the program following the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year, whereby bringing on a coach with the pedigree of Sione is a key part of that initiative.”