Samoans take charge at Buccaneers, Ireland
Two Samoans plying their professional rugby trade in Ireland have emerged in leading positions at the Buccaneers Rugby Football Club.
While Koronato Kiripati has been appointed the new Buccaneers R.F.C. Head Coach, former Manu Samoa, Henry Bryce, has landed the Backs Coach role for the club.
The Athone Advertiser reports that Kiripati has replaced outgoing coach, Peter O’Donnell.
Kiripati said he always “wanted to (coach the Buccaneers) and is “greatly looking forward to, even though it is a big challenge.”
Kiripati hails from Samoa and grew up in New Zealand where he honed his rugby in south Auckland, including Otahuhu College.
A formidable on-field presence, he arrived in Ireland in 2006 and played for two seasons for Wanderers before joining Buccaneers on their return to the top flight, the Athone Advertiser reports.
“Kiripati has enjoyed considerable success with Buccaneers including four Connacht Senior League and three Senior Cup triumphs. He was the club’s ‘Senior Player of the Year’ in 2011/12 and topped that by being named ‘Club Person of the Year’ in 2016, an accolade he shared with his wife Mele.
”Kiripati’s presence in Buccaneers pack added strength, guile and a hard edge and the talismanic South Sea Islander was a huge favourite with the Athlone side’s supporters. Softly spoken, he was a force of nature on the playing fields and he also captained Buccs in 2012/13. Kolo coached Longford last season and at North Kildare for the two previous seasons and he has also coached various Buccaneers underage sides.”
Married to Mele, they have four children Ivana, Koronato, Merissa and Niall.
“The family are heavily involved in the club and both Ivana and Kolo Junior have represented Connacht and Ireland at various underage levels. Mele was a leading light in the forming of a women’s team at the club but family commitments mean she will be taking a well-earned break from formal activity at the club this season.”
Bryce on the other hand is the son of Henry Bryce Senior, the man who was behind the Apia Rugby Development Programme which unearthed a lot of great Samoans.
He represented the Manu Samoa 15s and Sevens team as well as the Samoa ‘A’ team.
“He has considerable playing experience in Ireland. A big but mobile centre, he has played for Clontarf, Bective Rangers, Old Belvedere and Naas with whom he was named 2013 Division 2B Player of the Year in the All-Ireland League. He has held coaching positions at Naas, Clontarf, Suttonians and several college teams.”