The Sacramento Lions have added a new coach – Ifereimi Tawake. Tawake, who arrived in Sacramento last week from Fiji, will be working with the Lions to prepare them for the upcoming season and sharing his knowledge of the game with the Sacramento rugby community.
“I am happy to be here in the United States, especially in Sacramento,” says Tawake. “The boys here have the bodies and size to be great players…They just need to be taught the right skills and the right approach. That’s what I am here to do.”
Born and raised in Fiji, Tawake played professional rugby for 20 years before he began his coaching career. He has played and captained for several teams including the Fiji National Team, the Fiji Professional Warriors and the Fiji National Barbarians. Tawake’s achievements in the professional game of include a 3 Nations Championship win in 1986 and two Super 6 Championship victories, in both 1987 and 1988. He was selected to join the Fiji National Team in both the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cups.
“I believe I have been given a gift to work with people and be able to teach them about rugby,” says Tawake. “It’s what I love to do”.
Since making the switch to coaching in 2000, Tawake has worked with the Fiji Professional Warriors, the Fiji National Barabarians and the Fiji National Team. As National Head Coach, Tawake led Fiji to their first win at the Epson Cup in 2001, along with a first-time win at the Pacific Rugby Cup in 2009, where Fiji defeated both Tonga and Samoa.
The Lions’ manager, Aaron Frederick, expects to see some positive changes this season under Tawake’s direction.
“We are excited to see a higher level of training than we have had in past seasons. Tawake’s career, both as a player and a coach in the international circuit makes him an excellent leader for the Lions, and I’m confident that he will be able to help take the team to a new level of skill and focus,” said Frederick.
“A lot of the guys on the team grew up watching Tawake play and have actively followed his career. Having someone who they have admired for years coaching our team will surely make them work harder and want to play better.”
Tawake’s keen ability to recognize talent within the sport, along with his extensive knowledge of the game, has earned him a selector position for Fiji’s National Team and a level 3 Accreditation Coaching Certificate. These achievements, combined with his impressive contributions as both a player and a coach, prove that Mr. Tawake has a level of skill unmatched by many in the professional world of rugby.
“In Fiji, rugby is the main sport. It is what we do for fun and a way of life. We love the game and it is a big part of our community,” says Tawake. “Here in the United States, rugby is just a contact sport. I want to show people that rugby is a fun game that is all about commitment and enjoying the game and the community around it.”
It is this idea of community involvement and commitment that helped earn the Lions two new sponsorships this season from Jack’s Urban Eats and Crunch Fitness. Both businesses are focused on and take pride in the community around them.
Trevor Sanders, a partner and representative of Jack’s Urban Eats, says that “rugby is a fast growing and non-main stream sport… just the type of sport that appeals to our customers at Jacks. We wanted to be involved with an organization that needs help and doesn’t get funds as easily as the local little league or soccer teams.”
Crunch Fitness representative, J.P Dolliver says it was the Lions commitment to their sport and their respectful and positive demeanor that was most appealing. “These guys haven’t let getting older stop them from being dedicated and being competitive. They work hard and stay focused and that’s what we believe in at Crunch Fitness.”
With Tawake as their new head coach and the support of two popular local businesses, the Lions are gearing up for an exciting and successful season. When asked what we should expect to see from the Lions in the upcoming season, Tawake responded, “Give me six months to a year with these boys and Sacramento will be a team to beat. Nothing is impossible.”
Tawake will be hosting a rugby clinic in Sacramento on August 18th. If you would like more information about the clinic, contact Aaron Frederick at