They say lightning never strikes in the same place twice, but that is exactly what the Highlanders will be hoping for as they welcome the return of former Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, to Highlanders’ headquarters on a four-year deal.
In what is widely regarded as a something of a master stroke the storied former Highlanders coach will return to the Dunedin based club to take up a newly created position as Head of Rugby in the early part of 2024.
The role involves leading the entire Highlanders rugby programme, including recruitment and retention of players, supporting the coaching group and mentoring the Head Coach.
Joseph originally joined the club as Head Coach in 2011 from Wellington where he coached the capital city side to their first Ranfurly Shield win in twenty-six years. In 2015 he famously led the Highlanders to it’s one and only championship victory, before moving to Japan to lead the Brave Blossoms World Cup programme in 2017.
The 2019 World Cup in Japan was a phenomenal success under his guidance and the home team captured the imagination of rugby followers around the world and ignited the tournament for the hosts. Playing a fast-paced, high-skilled style of rugby that delivered a quarterfinals spot for the first time in their history, while taking victories against Ireland and Scotland along the way, before falling to the eventual World Cup Champions, South Africa, in the quarter-final.
The appointment has been welcomed by the Highlanders Chairman Peter Kean.
“I think we can count ourselves as very fortunate to have attracted a candidate of the calibre of Jamie to the role. His accomplishments with the Highlanders and then in Japan have seen him become a sought-after coach in world rugby. His experience will no doubt be a significant boost to our rugby programme and young coaching team”.
Joseph is looking forward to a return to his hometown.
“I view the role as a great opportunity to give back to the club and the region that means so much to me. I did my study at the University of Otago, played for Otago and my family have enjoyed being raised and schooled in Dunedin. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as Head Coach of the Highlanders, so I am genuinely excited about returning to the South to offer my services to the club in 2024”.
Joseph will be able to draw on his past experiences of getting the best out of a playing group and coaching team.
“I guess there are some similarities between the Highlanders and Japan. When I first started with the Highlanders they were on a bit of a lean run but over time we were able to connect with the community and put together a successful team and coaching group. I can see no reason why that cannot be repeated. It was a bit the same when I first came to Japan, I knew we would have to galvanise the public behind the Brave Blossoms for the World Cup tournament to be a real success in Japan. The key to that was always going to be a lot of hard work and a team playing a brand of rugby that folks could be proud of and excited by.”