Press Release

'Incredible journey': Parish stands down as Samoa coach

Published by RL Samoa
10 Aug 2023

Long serving coach Matt Parish has stepped down as head coach of the Toa Samoa Rugby League team after a highly successful international tenure that included an historic runner-up finish to Australia at the 2022 World Cup.

Parish advised the new executive of Rugby League Samoa of his decision to resign today, following more than a decade in the role.

The former NSW State of Origin assistant coach has made an enormous contribution to the international game, leading Samoa to three World Cups (2013, 2017,2021), the Four Nations in 2014 and numerous Pacific Test victories.

Samoa’s charge to last year’s World Cup decider drew global attention with movie megastar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Socceroo’s great Tim Cahill amongst the thousands of Samoans to publicly get behind Parish and his team.


Samoa captain Junior Paulo embraces Parish after the World Cup final (Getty Images)

“It has been an incredible journey filled with triumphs, unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships but I believe it’s the right time to stand aside and give someone else the opportunity to take the lead,” a humbled Parish said.

“I am extremely grateful and honoured to have been part of this wonderful team and proud of the progress we have made and the positive impact that our players had on all Samoans around the world.

“I also want to express my deepest gratitude to all the dedicated and loyal players and staff that I have been fortunate enough to work with and thank them for their unwavering support and commitment.

“I am confident that the team will continue to thrive under new leadership and achieve even greater success in the future.

“I am forever humbled and thankful to all the faithful Samoans throughout the world who inspired our great team to success and thank you all for allowing me to be a part of this amazing journey.”

Such was Parish’s impact on the island nation, he was ordained as a Samoan chief in an emotional ceremony last December in front of many of the team and their families.


Matt Parish has coached Samoa for a decade (Getty Images)

The chiefly title bestowed upon Parish was ‘Mau a Pule’, which has a great historic significance in Samoa.

Rugby League Samoa’s Executive President, Ponifasio Vasa, paid tribute to Parish’s long-term commitment and historic achievements.

“We duly acknowledge the accolades that Mau a Pule Matt Parish has achieved for Toa Samoa as head coach,” Vasa said.

“His invaluable service, loyalty, effort, sacrifices and commitment to Toa Samoa has spoken volumes of the systems Matt has instigated and we sincerely thank him for his selfless service to Rugby League Samoa.”


Parish at Old Trafford ahead of the World Cup final (Getty Images) 

Vasa also lauded Parish’s efforts in raising the profile and development of rugby league for Pacific nations.

“Matt’s vocal persistence on equity in international rugby league brought about changes to policies that favourably enhanced the development of the game for all Pacific nations.

“He has undoubtedly silenced those unforgiving critics while faithfully serving in this role and we are most grateful to Matt for embracing the Samoan culture that bonded the team and connected the players to its heritage and Fa’asamoa.”

In addressing Parish directly, Vasa said: “You played a key and influential role in last year’s historic Rugby League World Cup success where this momentous occasion will be remembered for generations and etched in the history of sports for Samoa.

“Mau a Pule, you have been a blessing to Samoa, and we say thank you. You will always remain an integral part of the Toa Samoa family and we look forward to continuing this relationship in developing the game in Samoa.”

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