Rugby World Cup Pool D: Meet the head coaches in charge of each nation

Dylan Coetzee
Split with head coaches Steve Borthwick (England), Jamie Joseph (Japan) and Michael Cheika (Arg)

Split with head coaches Steve Borthwick (England), Jamie Joseph (Japan) and Michael Cheika (Arg)

The Rugby World Cup is ever so close and is set to be the most competitive edition of the global showpiece yet. There is still so much to discuss ahead of the action. Next up is a closer look at the coaches in Pool D.

England – Steve Borthwick

The former second-row had a very impressive playing career, beginning with Bath, where he played between 1998 and 2008, after which he moved to Saracens until 2014, when he retired. He was a key figure for England during his 57 caps and even captained the side before he hung up his boots.

Borthwick formed a good relationship with Eddie Jones and was called up as the veteran’s forwards coach with Japan from 2012 to 2015, where he contributed to the Brave Blossom’s historic win over South Africa.

His association with Jones continued when the Australian-born coach took over England after the 2015 World Cup, with Borthwick being named forwards coach; through this position, he would earn a spot on the coaching team on the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour. He would hold that role until 2020, when he got his first head coach role with Leicester Tigers.

Borthwick would do a splendid job winning the Premiership in his second season. He was destined to be England’s boss, but this was fast-tracked when Jones was sacked at the end of 2022.

This left a big job for Borthwick, who is still picking up the pieces.


Premiership: 2021/2022

Argentina – Michael Cheika

The Australian-born coach played alongside Jones at Randwick. Cheika was an accomplished number eight, but his playing career never reached Test level nor the heights his coaching career did.

An early job in Italy began his career with Petrarca Padova for a season in 1999 before he returned to Australia to coach Randwick for the next four seasons. He had a successful stint which caught the eye of Leinster, where he would coach from 2005 to 2010. Cheika won the Champions Cup in 2009 as well as the Celtic League the year before.

He left in 2010 and had a stint with Stade Francais but returned to Australia in 2013 to take over the Waratahs. He would win the side’s only Super Rugby title a year later.

Ewan McKenzie’s shock resignation in 2014 saw Cheika get named Wallabies head coach for the 2015 World Cup and beyond. He took the side to the final of the tournament and was named World Rugby Coach of the Year in 2015 after also winning the Rugby Championship. Cheika would leave the role after the 2019 tournament.

The coach then took on an assistant role with Argentina whilst coaching Lebanon in rugby league and being director of the Green Rockets. However, when Mario Ledesma left his position as head coach of Los Pumas, Cheika was promoted after serving as an advisor to the former Pumas hooker.

He has greatly developed the team with historic wins over New Zealand and England away from home.


World Rugby Coach of the Year: 2015
Rugby Championship: 2015

Super Rugby: 2015

Champions Cup: 2009
Celtic League: 2008

Shute Shield: 2004

Japan – Jamie Joseph

The New Zealander was a very solid forward during his playing days, where he represented Otago 86 times as well as New Zealand and Japan at Test Level.

His coaching career began with an assistant role for Wellington between 2003 and 2007, during which he coached the Maori All Blacks for the first time. Joseph was then elevated to head coach of Wellington in 2007 before moving to the Highlanders in 2010.

The coach doubled up for two years with the Highlanders and Maori All Blacks. He would stick with the Dunedin side until 2016 and, during that period, won Super Rugby.

The success got him good publicity, and after a Barbarians job, he took over the head coach role in Japan from Jones, where he has since been. Joseph also coached the Sunwolves during their Super Rugby stint in 2017-2018.

He is looking to follow up on his team’s quarter-final success in the last World Cup as they battle out in Pool D. Joseph is set to vacate his role after the World Cup after eight years with the side.

Samoa – Seilala Mapusua

Another coach with a very successful playing career as a hard-running centre. Mapusua was born in Samoa but grew up in Wellington, which saw him start his career with Otago and the Highlanders, where he played from 2000 to 2006 before moving to London Irish. During a strong five-year stint, he made over 100 appearances for the club. He left in 2011 and played for Kubota Spears and Kamaishi Seawaves before returning in 2016.

He managed 26 caps for Samoa and seven for the Pacific Islanders.

After his playing days were over, he worked as a Coaching Development Officer for Otago and took over the Manu Samoa job in 2020, where he has developed an impressive team since. They will be looking to make the most of this World Cup and the changes to World Rugby’s eligibility laws.

Chile – Pablo Lemoine

The former prop, born in Uruguay, had a fairly successful career as a player with a long stint at Stade Francais before joining Monauban and Agen. During this time, he played 48 times for his country.

His first major job as a coach came for Uruguay from 2012 to 2015, where he won the South American Rugby Championship.

Lemoine had a break from coaching before returning with one season as head coach of Germany. After this, he got the Chile role and has done an outstanding job powering the country to their first-ever World Cup.


South American Rugby Championship: 2014

READ MORE: Rugby World Cup Pool C: Meet the head coaches in charge of each nation