Wallabies legends David Campese and Mark Ella have accepted assistant coaching roles with the Australian Sevens team for upcoming tournaments in the iRB Sevens World Series.
Campese takes on an official coaching position with an Australian side for the first time with his appointment as an assistant to head coach Bill Millard for the Hong Kong Sevens on March 28-30 and the International Rugby Sevens Adelaide on April 5-6.Ella, who coached the Australian Sevens team at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, will join the coaching team for the South Australian event.
The former Test greats will also serve as ARU ambassadors during the Australian leg of the iRB Sevens World Series, which is likely to attract an audience of more than 30,000 fans over two days at Adelaide Oval.
Australian Rugby Union Managing Director and CEO John O’Neill today welcomed the decision by Campese and Ella to be involved with the national Sevens team.
“It’s wonderful to have these two icons of Australian Rugby back in the fold,” said Mr O’Neill. “David and Mark are two of the greatest players this country has produced. The skills they possessed set them apart during their illustrious on-field careers. Now they have the chance to impart some of that unique store of knowledge to the current generation.
“It is also an opportunity for us to tap into their thoughts. I’m sure the assistance they will offer Bill Millard will be rewarding for all involved, and especially for the developing stars of tomorrow that are part of our Sevens program.”
Campese will fly from his home in Durban, South Africa, to link with the Sevens team in Hong Kong. He will also accompany the squad to Adelaide.
“This is like a dream for me,” said Campese, Australia’s first Test centurion with 101 caps from 1982-1996. “I’ve always wanted the opportunity to be involved again with Australian Rugby and to help out in Hong Kong – a place that has so many memories for me after playing Sevens there for more than a decade – is an honour. I’ve coached in Singapore, been to Japan on a number of occasions, worked with the Sharks Super 14 franchise in South Africa, and I’m currently coaching a schoolboys side in Durban.
“So it’s great to be involved for the first time in a coaching capacity with Australian Rugby. I feel I can make a contribution. To help these guys and promote the Sevens . . . I’m taking the role extremely seriously. For the younger players in the squad, Sevens is a genuine step on a path that hopefully leads them to Wallabies selection. I’m excited to have the chance to help these guys achieve that goal.”
Former Test captain Ella, who retired at the age of 25 after his stunning performances at flyhalf during the Grand Slam tour of the UK and Ireland in 1984, has previously coached in Italy and at Sevens level.
“I’m really looking forward to being involved again,” he said. “It’s a long time since I’ve had a direct connection with Australian Rugby, so the invitation to help out in Adelaide came as a very pleasant surprise. Like Campo, I feel there is an opportunity to assist in the area of skills coaching. Helping to promote the game and Sevens in particular is also appealing to me.”
Australian Sevens head coach Millard said he was excited to have two of the most high-profile figures in the game ready to work alongside him.
“I’m looking forward to it, and so are the boys,” he said. “David and Mark are rugby icons. They will give the Sevens a great profile. I’m really excited to have them on board.”
The Hong Kong tournament will feature 24 teams in six pools of four. Australia has been grouped with Tonga, France and Hong Kong. The Adelaide Sevens has 16 teams in four pools of four. Australia’s round robin opponents will be South Africa, USA and Canada.
Position: Wing, fullback
Test career: 1982-1996
Test points: 315 (64 tries, 8 conversions, 7 penalty goals, 2 dropped goals)
Test debut: v New Zealand in Christchurch 1982
Test career: 1980-84
Test points: 78 (6 tries, 3 conversions, 8 penalty goals, 8 dropped goals)
Test debut: v New Zealand in Sydney 1980