Tumai Edwards, current Assistant Coach for the Melbourne Unicorn’s Premier 1 team, has been named as Assistant Coach of the U18 Australian Rugby Sevens side. He led the Rebels U18s Boy Rugby Sevens team to a runner up finish in the National Rugby Sevens Championships earlier this year.
Victoria and the Rebels will be well represented, as the National side takes shape ahead of the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa this September.
Edwards said head coach Hugh Carpenter was looking to incorporate aspects of the Rebels’ approach heading into the Games.
“Hugh wants me to bring in the same structure and environment that I had at the Rebels,” he explains.
“A lot of those guys (Rebels U18s) had never played Rugby Sevens before, but we became so close as a team and trusting of one another that they just had that demeanour where they didn’t want to let the guy beside them down.”
The Assistant Coach was resolute when it came to his expectations of the national side; “we’re definitely going there for gold, and to put Australian Youth Rugby on the map.”
Originally from New Zealand, Edwards played his early rugby with the Auckland and Hawkes Bay ITM Cup teams. He then made the transition to Sydney, playing for the Manly Marlins, before an interest in coaching saw a move south and an involvement with the Melbourne Unicorns.
24 hopeful players named in the Australian extended playing squad are currently being put through their paces at rigorous training camps. Four players from that Rebels U18 team are included in the squad, and are all “without doubt very close to making the final squad”, according to Edwards.
Tumai believes that alongside the introduction of the Rebels into the Super Rugby competition, Melbourne’s increased involvement in Australian Rugby is testament to the success enjoyed by sides like the Rebels U18s Rugby Sevens, as youth figures grew in Victoria again in 2014.
“Obviously Rugby is still a minority sport in Melbourne, but I know with the success we’ve had with the U18s that I’ve had a lot of people approach me saying they want their son to trial next year,” he said.
Edwards said that Rugby Sevens, and the experience that it offers, is an ideal pathway for talented young Rugby players.
“Rugby Sevens is a great stepping stone for your skill set, and Rugby is global, so if the guys want to travel it is certainly the avenue for them,” he said. “You look at the Rugby Sevens circuit now, and they get to visit twelve or thirteen countries every year for tournaments!”