Who Is Wayne Pivac?
Written by Gavin on 14th July 2018
Wayne Pivac has been named as the new head coach of Wales.
The 55-year-old head coach of the Scarlets, hails originally from Takapuna, Auckland.
He was a Policeman in New Zealand and a back row forward, whose early career saw him play alongside the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick and Frano Botica at Auckland Colts.
He also played for North Harbour, where All Black Buck Shelford was his main competition for a starting spot and he names then coach Peter Thorborn – who would go on to lead both Bristol and USA and become and All Blacks selector – as a formative influence.
An early coaching foray saw him take charge of the New Zealand Police rugby team over a four year period assisted by current All Blacks boss, and RWC winner, Steve Hansen and well known forwards specialist Mike Cron.
He took up a coaching position in Takapuna looking after the U21s then the First Fifteen at the age of 27, where the likes Eric Rush and Graham Dowd were coming through the system.
Next he picked up the reins of the Second XV at North Harbour who went through his first season unbeaten.
He repeated this trick when he moved to Northland winning promotion from the second division of the National Provincial Championship. Success meant he came to the attention of the then Auckland coach – and soon-to-be Wales boss Graham Henry – who recruited Pivac as an assistant in 1999.
However, before Pivac could join Henry the future World Cup winner left the Southern Hemisphere famously saying ‘I’m going to coach Wales and I’m leaving tonight’ – allowing his assistant-in-waiting the opportunity to be instantly promoted to Auckland head coach.
Pivac won three NPC titles with Auckland, in 1999, 2002 and 2003. He completed a league and cup double in ’03 by adding the Ranfurly Shield (beating Canterbury in Christchurch) and, that same season, he won the ‘Steinlager Rugby Coach of the Year award’.
He turned down a contract renewal at Auckland to be appointed as Fiji Director of Rugby early in 2004 and oversaw their RWC Sevens title win in 2005, before leaving in 2007 – returning to coach North Harbour.
In 2012 he was once again recruited by Auckland as head coach, from Pakuranga, before the Scarlets coach at that time, Simon Easterby, asked him to join as a forwards coach for the West Wales region.
History repeated itself at the Scarlets in the sense that Easterby left to coach Ireland as Pivac arrived and the Kiwi was once again called upon to step-up to a head coach role in 2014.
He moved quickly to build a team around him, which includes two former Welsh internationals in Stephen Jones and Byron Hayward, and won the Guinness Pro12 title in 2017, bringing it back to Wales’ most westerly region for the first time in over a decade.
His current contract with the Scarlets expires as his appointment with Wales begins and, with his reputation high and his services much sought after, the WRU have moved swiftly to get their man, with the Scarlets kept informed every step of the way.
Pivac has two children Matthew and Bradley, he was born in New Zealand to father George, who is of Croatian heritage and mother Joan, whose family is from Scotland, but he has often commented that he feels uniquely at home in Wales:
“I see myself now as a Welsh coach,” he said recently. “This is my home.”