Toutai Kefu

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Toutai Kefu
Birth nameRodger Siaosi Toutai Kefu
Date of birth (1974-04-08) 8 April 1974 (age 44)
Place of birthTonga
Height191 cm (6 ft 3 in)[1]
Weight113 kg (17 st 11 lb)
Notable relative(s)Mafileo Kefu (brother)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Number 8
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2004–10 Kubota Spears ()
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
1996–2004 Queensland Reds 103 ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1997–2003
2006
Australia
Barbarians
60
1
(50)
(0)
Teams coached
Years Team
2010–11
2011–12
2012–16
2016-
2016
Sunshine Coast Stingrays
Tonga (Assistant)
Kubota Spears
Tonga (Head coach)
Queensland Country
Correct as of 27 June 2016

Toutai Kefu (born 8 April 1974) is a Tonga-born rugby coach, who earned 60 caps playing at number eight for the Australian national team (the Wallabies). Kefu is currently the head coach of the Tongan national team having previously coached them as a caretaker in 2012. He is also the Assistant Coach of the First 15 at Brisbane Boys College. He is additionally the head coach of the Australian side Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championship, while there is a break between international windows.

Career[edit]

Playing career[edit]

Big, quick and powerfully built, he was a stand out school boy performer, being selected for the Queensland Reds for the inaugural season of the Super 12 in 1996, aged 21. He made his international test debut at the age of 23, coming of the bench against South Africa on 23 August during the 1997 Tri Nations Series. He made his first start on his second cap almost a year later. He took over the position of number 8 from fellow Tongan Willie Ofahengaue in 1998 in Australia's record 76–0 win over England. After helping Australia qualify for the 1999 Rugby World Cup in September 1998, he played a vital role in winning the Webb Ellis Cup for Australia's second time.[2] He played in 4 of their matches, scoring against Romania in the opening game, and playing the full 80 minutes in the final.

He helped Australia to their first ever Tri-nations title in 2000, which saw the Wallabies win their third consecutive Bledisloe Cup title, the first ever time they had done this. In 2001, he helped Australia to their first series win over the British and Irish Lions in over 70 years, playing in all three tests. Later that year he scored the try which beat the All Blacks to retain the Bledisloe Cup, giving his Skipper, John Eales, a perfect send off, as this was his last game for the Wallabies.

After failing to make the 2003 Rugby World Cup squad, Kefu signed with Kubota Spears in the Top League in Japan, leaving the Queensland Reds after earning 103 caps for his state.[3] In the six season Kefu was with the Japanese club, Kubota Spears failed to move from the midsection of the table, only getting as high as fifth in the 2009–10 Top League season. Following the 2009–10 season, Kefu retired from playing rugby.

In 2006, Kefu represented the Barbarians, playing against England at Twickenham Stadium, with England winning 46–19.

Honours[edit]

Coaching career[edit]

In 2010 Kefu became head coach of the Sunshine Coast Stingrays, a team in the Queensland Premier League. In his first season in charge, he led the Stingrays to the Senior Championship title, defeating Gold Coast 37–12 in the final. Kefu continued on to coach the Stingrays, but temporarily left the side in 2011 to take up the role of assistant coach for the Tongan national team in preparation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.[4][5] He helped Tonga to second in the 2011 IRB Pacific Nations Cup, their best positioning since the tournament was formed in 2006. It saw Tonga earn their first victory over Fiji since 2008, winning 45–21, their largest winning margin over the Flying Fijians. In addition to this, they beat Samoa 29–19, which was their first victory over Manu Samoa since 2007. Their only loss came to Japan going down narrowly 28–27. During the World Cup, Tonga earned two victories, beating Japan 31–18 and beating France 19–14 for the first time since 1999. However, the two wins was not enough to progress Tonga further in the tournament.

In 2012, following Isitolo Maka resignation as Tongan head coach, Kefu acted as interim head coach for the 2012 IRB Pacific Nations Cup.[6] He guided Tonga to a sole victory, beating Japan in Tokyo 24–20. In September 2012, Mana Otai was named the full coach.[7]

Following his leave from the Tongan national team, Kefu became the head coach of his former club Kubota Spears in Japan. They had dropped to the Eastern A League. He had recruited high-profile players including Kurt Morath and Hoani Matenga, and brought in young Japanese players.[8] Kefu led the team to promotion for the 2013–14 Top League season, and in his second year in charge, he led his side to top of Group 2, though failed to make it past the Wildcard play-offs, after losing to NEC Green Rockets 47–10.[9][10] Unfortunately, in the 2014–15 Top League season, Kubota Spears finished fifth in their group which meant they played in the Promotion and relegation play-offs.[11] They played Kamaishi Seawaves on 14 February 2015, where they secured a 34–5 victory to remain in the Top League for the 2015–16 Top League season. Following another poor season in 2015/16, Kefu left the club at the end of the season.

In August 2016, just three months after being appointed head coach of Tonga, Kefu was named the head coach of Queensland Country for the 2016 National Rugby Championship in Australia.[12] Kefu was only able to lead his side to a single victory during their campaign, coming against finalist and table leaders New South Wales Country Eagles 40–38. This meant Queensland Country finished bottom of the table on 7 points.

Head coach of Tonga[edit]

On 6 May 2016, Kefu was announced as the Tongan national team's head coach, replacing Mana Otai after Tonga failed to automatically qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup due to finishing fourth in their pool at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[13] Kefu started his reign as Tongan head coach with a 23–18 loss to Fiji, though Tonga did lead the Fijians 15–0 at half time. A week later, he led his side to a 23–20 loss to Georgia, before going down to Samoa 30–10. Tonga finished last in the 2016 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup, placing them bottom of the table - putting them in a disadvantage ahead of the 2017 tournament, where they will need to win both matches to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.[14] Kefu gained his first win against Spain during the 2016 2016 end-of-year internationals, where they won 28–13 in what was the first ever meeting between the two nations. A week later, Tonga defeated the United States 20–17 before going on to win against Tier 1 side Italy 19–17. This was Tonga's first win over Italy since 1999 and their first win over a Tier 1 nation since beating Scotland in 2012. This was the first ever time Tonga had won all of their games in a single campaign.

In June 2017, Kefu named a squad that included 15 uncapped players in an attempt to increase depth in the national team of players playing in elite rugby in various countries. On 16 June, 7 players earned their debut in Tonga's 24–6 loss to Wales at Eden Park. Two weeks late, Kefu led Tonga into their first home game since 2009 - against Samoa in the first round of the 2017 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup. Despite a late come back from Samoa, Tonga earned their first victory over Samoa (30–26) since 2011, in a game that included 2 further debutantes. The following week saw Fiji down Tonga for s sixth consecutive time, losing 14–10. Tonga had a promising starts to the End-of-year tour, narrowly losing to invitational side Barbarians, 27–24, in the first ever match between the two sides. Unfortunately, they were unable to continue their form from that match in to their second match on tour, losing to Japan 39–6, a record defeat for the Tongan's against Japan. Tonga's third match on tour ended in a victory, defeating Romania 25–20.

The 2018 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup saw Tonga maintain their position as the second ranked Pacific Nation behind Fiji. In the opening round of the PNC, Tonga lost to newly invited Georgia 16–15, but went onto to defeat Samoa 28–18 in round 2. Despite there only being two rounds of the PNC, Tonga later went onto to beat Fiji in Lautoka 27–19, in a one-off test match - it was the first time since 2011 that Tonga had defeated Fiji in Fiji.

Honours[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2001 Australian Wallabies squad - British & Irish Lions Tour". rugby.com.au. Australian Rugby Union. Archived from the original on 22 September 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  2. ^ Tongan Kefu fills huge hole for Wallabies
  3. ^ JRFU’S new ruling puts players’ lives at risk
  4. ^ Kefu Switches Focus to Tonga Toutai Changes Focus to Tonga
  5. ^ Ikale Tahi squad for the Pacific Nations Cup 2011
  6. ^ Sport: Tonga rugby names new-look squad for PNC
  7. ^ Mana 'Otai, 'Ikale Tahi's new Head Coach
  8. ^ resentation of the regional league clubs A season 2012/2013
  9. ^ 2013–14 Top League season table
  10. ^ Kubota Spears Top League Profile 2013-14
  11. ^ 2014–15 Top League season table
  12. ^ NRC: Queensland Country unveil Kefu as head coach
  13. ^ Kefu to coach Tonga rugby team
  14. ^ 'Ikale Tahi players in "terrible shape" during Pacific Nations Cup

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
New Zealand Isitolo Maka
Tonga National Rugby Union Coach
(caretaker)

2012
Succeeded by
Tonga Mana Otai
Preceded by
Tonga Mana Otai
Tonga National Rugby Union Coach
2016–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent