Toutai Kefu

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Toutai Kefu
Full name Rodger Siaosi Toutai Kefu
Date of birth (1974-04-08) 8 April 1974 (age 42)
Place of birth Tonga
Height 191 cm (6 ft 3 in)[1]
Weight 113 kg (17 st 11 lb)
Notable relative(s) Steve Kefu, Mafileo Kefu (brothers)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Number 8
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2004–10 Kubota Spears
Super Rugby
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1996–2004 Queensland Reds 103
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1997–2003
2006
Australia
Barbarians
60
1
(50)
(0)
Coaching career
Years Club / team
2010–11
2011–12
2012–16
2015
2016-
2016
Sunshine Coast Stingrays
Tonga (Assistant)
Kubota Spears
Souths Under 15 Div 3
Tonga (Head coach)
Queensland Country
correct as of 27 June 2016.

Toutai Kefu (born 8 April 1974 in Tonga) was a rugby player, now 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 haven previously coached them as a caretaker in 2012. 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.

Head coach of Tonga[edit]

On 6 May 2016, Kefu was announced as the Tongan national teams 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.[12] Kefu, who is only appointed until the end of 2016, started the year with a 23–18 loss to Fiji, though 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, which puts them in a disadvantage ahead of the 2017 tournament, were they will need to win both matches to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.[13]

References[edit]

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