Lakapi Samoa has confirmed the appointment of Mase Mahonri Schwalger as the new Head Coach of Manu Samoa following its recent Board Meeting.

This decision follows a thorough selection and recruitment process, during which the Board convened to confirm the report and recommendations from the Selection Panel.

Mase has been appointed for a four-year term, starting from 2024 and extending through the conclusion of the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

“It is truly an honour to be appointed as the Head Coach of Manu Samoa,” Mase expressed. “This role carries a significant responsibility, but I’m thrilled by the chance to contribute to the rich legacy of the blue jersey. Representing one’s country, whether as a coach or player, is the pinnacle of sporting achievement, and I’m deeply humbled by this opportunity. I’m eagerly looking forward to the journey ahead.”

Mase will succeed the outgoing Manu Samoa Head Coach, Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua. He has notably played 40 Tests for the Manu Samoa as a hooker from 2000 to 2011 and captained the team to the RWC2011, and boasts an impressive coaching background. After retiring from professional rugby in 2014, he began his coaching journey as a Technical Advisor for Manu Samoa leading up to the Rugby World Cup 2015. Upon returning to Samoa, he established the Rugby Academy Samoa (RAS) and continued his support for local clubs. His coaching career progressed as he served as Assistant Coach for the Aana Provincial Union team, which clinched victory in the Samoa National Provincial Championship (NPC) 2016. He further honed his skills as Assistant Coach for the Aana Chiefs in 2017-2018, and the Savaii Vikings in 2019 for the Samoa Super Nine Championship. In 2017, he took the helm as the Head Coach of the Junior Manu Samoa at the World Rugby Junior Championship in Georgia. In 2018 until now, he consistently served as Assistant Coach for Manuma Samoa, and is involved in preparing Manuma Samoa for the upcoming World Rugby Pacific Challenge in April, where Samoa will host Fiji Warriors, Japan XV, and Tonga A. His dedication led to his appointment as Assistant Coach of Manu Samoa in 2020 – 2023.

“We, with Lakapi Samoa have three solid months to assemble our inaugural Manu Samoa squad for 2024. Hosting Italy and Spain in July is an exciting prospect followed by the Pacific Nations Cup. My immediate focus is on assembling a strong management team, and thoroughly select a squad that will keep the pride in the jersey.”

Lakapi Samoa Board Chairman, Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi said: “We are thrilled with our recent appointment and impressed by the caliber of candidates who expressed interest in serving Manu Samoa. The decision to select Mase was a thorough one by the Board, reflecting our alignment with the new strategic direction aimed at advancing Samoan rugby. All applicants presented compelling ideas to the Selection Panel on advancing Manu Samoa, and Mase particularly stood out with his clear vision for Manu Samoa supported by his immediate and long-term goals and action plans. We extend our congratulations to Mase on his appointment and wish him success in his new role. We also acknowledge the leadership of outgoing Head Coach, Vaoavasamanaia Seilala Mapusua. Fa’afetai mo lau tautua mo le Manu Samoa.”

Lakapi Samoa General Manager High Performance Unit, Seumanu Douglas Ngau Chun said: “Congratulations to Mase on his appointment as the Head Coach of Manu Samoa. His exceptional coaching track record, marked by innovative game strategies and unwavering dedication to Manu Samoa and its rich heritage, make him the ideal candidate for this role. We are confident that we have selected the perfect leader to steer Manu Samoa to success. I also want to extend my gratitude to former Manu Samoa Head Coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua for his invaluable contributions to Lakapi Samoa over the past four years. His hard work is deeply appreciated.2

Mase Mahonri Schwalger (Manu Samoa #350) made his debut for Manu Samoa in 2000 against Wales at Millennium Stadium. He went on to play 40 tests for Samoa. Amongst his notable achievements while playing in the blue Jersey, he captained the team in 2010 and won the Pacific Nations Cup for the first time, and the historic victory over the Wallabies in 2011. He also led them in the Rugby World Cup 2011 held in New Zealand.

He played professional rugby for various franchises in Super Rugby, including the Highlanders, Hurricanes, and the Chiefs. He played Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Taranaki, and Counties Manukau in the NZ National Provincial Championship (NPC). He also played for Scarlets and Sale Sharks in the Premiership in Northern Hemisphere. Additionally, he represented Samoa in the Pacific Islanders team in 2006.

Retiring from rugby in 2014, Mase transitioned into coaching, starting as a Technical Advisor for Manu Samoa in preparation for Rugby World Cup 2015. He later founded the Rugby Academy Samoa (RAS) in Samoa, and contributed to the success of teams namely the Aana Provincial Senior A team, Aana Chiefs, and Savaii Vikings in the Super Nine Championship.

In 2016, he was called to play for the World XVs team that played the Wallabies and Springboks.

In 2017, Mase was appointed Head Coach of the Junior Manu Samoa, leading them to the World Rugby Junior Championship in Georgia. He has served as an Assistant Coach for Samoa A and Manuma Samoa and Manu Samoa.

Recently, Mase played a pivotal role as an Assistant Coach for the Junior Manu Samoa in the Oceania Rugby Under 20’s Challenge 2024 in Auckland, New Zealand. Their success secured Samoa’s participation in the upcoming World Rugby Junior Trophy in Scotland this July.

He holds the Mase matai title from the village of Saleaula in Savaii. He is married to Molly Young-Schwalger and they have a daughter and currently residing in Samoa with families.