Chiefs Manawa Reveal Coaching Lineup For Inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki Season

Chiefs Manawa’s team has confirmed an experienced coaching group for this year’s inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki Women’s competition.

High-level coaches, Crystal Kaua and Rodney Gibbs will join Chiefs Manawa head coach Allan Bunting as his assistant coaches.

Kaua spent several years in the Waikato before going abroad to coach. She successfully demonstrated her prowess while coaching at Hamilton Girls’ High School and the University of Waikato XVs program before going abroad to build her sevens resume. The current Black Ferns Sevens skills coach and analyst has gained a wealth of experience abroad in the Cook Islands and most recently in Japan, while also being heavily involved in the Black Ferns Sevens Development framework.

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Gibbs began his coaching career in the Bay of Plenty after a professional playing career for his home province. Gibbs is no stranger to high performance coaching, having been part of the Bay of Plenty Steamers coaching group as of 2013 as the side’s assistant coach. Gibbs made the move to the women’s game in 2018, leading the women’s performance program and taking on the role of head coach for the Bay of Plenty Volcanix. Gibbs was part of the New Zealand Rugby High Performance framework, leading the NZ Barbarians team against the Black Ferns in last year’s November series.

Newly appointed Chiefs Manawa assistant coach Kaua said: “We have a platform that is a game-changer for women’s rugby and I am honored to be part of the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki competition.”

“We have a great opportunity to be part of something special. I love the Chiefs Rugby Club and what it represents, and I want to do everything I can to help them succeed.”

“I am delighted to be working with Bunts and Gibby. We all care deeply about people and we also want to play a rugby brand that is innovative and inspiring,” concludes Kaua.

Chiefs Manawa assistant coach Gibbs said: “It is a real privilege to have the opportunity to be involved with the Waitomo Chiefs Manawa team in the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki competition. Being from Bay of Plenty, I have a real connection to the Chiefs Rugby Club, which really gives meaning to the responsibility we have to represent our region and people.”

“I look forward to working with the management team that has been selected. Especially the opportunity to learn and share ideas with Bunts and Crystal to create an environment and a team that will deliver results not only in 2022, but also in the future.

“When you look at the caliber of the players that have been selected, it’s pretty hard not to be excited about what lies ahead.”

Chiefs Manawa head coach Bunting said, “It’s great to have the combination of coaching experience that both Crystal and Gibby (Rodney) bring to our area.”

“Crystal has a wealth of experience and has contributed immensely to women’s rugby. With her coaching career in both fifteen and seven, she has been very successful and has spawned a stream of talent in Black Ferns Sevens and XVs through her work at Hamilton Girls’ High School. Crystal’s desire, drive and her experience have led to her own successful programs here and abroad, making her much more than just a coach. This is reflected in where she is now, as part of the Black Ferns Sevens coaching team. Having her in our coaching group is invaluable to the growth of our team.”

“Gibby also comes with a wealth of experience, is well established in his coaching and has been highly influential in the development of both men’s and women’s rugby both locally and nationally. The former Bay of Plenty Steamers assistant coach has excellent rapport with the players and has contributed to the growth of women’s rugby with his time at the Bay and more recently led the NZ Barbarians on a quality campaign. Being a former 10 as a player, the knowledge he brings from a high performance environment for both men and women will complete our coaching combination and form a unit that will maximize the growth and development of our team.”

Chiefs Rugby Club chief executive officer Michael Collins said: “We are pleased to confirm that a group of high-quality coaches are assisting Bunts in the Waitomo Chiefs Manawa’s inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki campaign. Together we have an amazing group of talented individuals who will complement each other and we expect them to bring out the best in our Waitomo Chiefs Manawa squad. We are curious to see what they will achieve.”

Chiefs Manawa’s first roster was announced late last year, ahead of the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki competition which kicks off in 2022. The draw has yet to be announced.

– Chiefs Rugby

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