Kévin Rouet, who coached Canada to a fourth-place finish at last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup, has been rewarded with a contract extension through the 2025 tournament.
Under the French-born Rouet, fourth-ranked Canada turned heads at the World Cup in New Zealand in November, pushing No. 1 England to the limit in a 26-19 semi-final loss before falling 36-0 to No. 3 France in the third-place game.
Rouet spent three years as a volunteer assistant coach with the women before being elevated to the top job in March, 2022, when Rugby Canada parted ways with Sandro Fiorino.
“Under his leadership, our team inspired the nation at the [Rugby World Cup] last autumn, and they’ve picked up where they left off with excellent wins over South Africa and then U.S.A. in the [Pacific Four Series],” Rugby Canada CEO Nathan Bombrys said in a statement Friday.
“Away from the international windows, Kevin remains actively engaged with our players, visiting them at their clubs in Europe, or engaging with their clubs and university programs across Canada. He has also provided coaching support to our Canada sevens teams. He has a genuine desire to see our Canadian players develop and improve across all our programs.”
Rouet’s original short-term contract as head coach expired at the end of last year’s World Cup. Now he is officially a Rugby Canada employee.
“It just validates some good work that I think we did the last year,” Rouet said of his new deal. “[I’m] happy for that.”
The 37-year-old Rouet is a mechanical engineer as well as a rugby coach.
Rouet obtained his master’s degree in engineering from École nationale supérieure d’Arts et Métiers (ESNAM), an engineering and research institute of higher education in Paris. He was 23 when he moved to Quebec, earning a master’s degree in project management from the University of Quebec at Rimouski.
Initially he just planned to spend two years studying in Quebec. But he stayed on after getting a project manager job with Canam Engineering, working in bridge construction.
In 2016, some five years into the engineering job, he quit to focus on rugby.
Rouet took on a variety of coaching roles including the Laval University women, Quebec women and the Club de Rugby de Quebec. He also served as an assistant coach with Stade Bordelais in France during the pandemic.
As a player, Rouet saw action as a scrum half, fly half and inside centre at club level. He started in the under-19 and under-21 ranks with Stade Francais in Paris before shifting to his home club in Nemours, southeast of the French capital.
The Canadian women thumped No. 13 South Africa 66-7 last month in Madrid before defeating the seventh-ranked U.S. 50-17 to open the Pacific Four Series.
The four-team Pacific Four Series is scheduled to resume in June when No. 6 Australia hosts No. 2 New Zealand before all four teams converge on Canada in July for the final matches of the tournament. The top three teams will qualify for the inaugural WXV, a new three-tier annual global women’s international 15s competition, while the bottom team will move on to the WXV second tier.
The WXV is scheduled for Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, likely in New Zealand, with Rouet anticipating some warm-up matches in September. The tournament will feature the top three teams from the Women’s Six Nations as well as the top three from the Pacific Four Series.
“It’s great,” Rouet said of the busy calendar, which has not usually been the case in the year following a World Cup. “The program is moving forward It’s going to be a lot of time together.”
“This year we’re going to play a lot of very good teams,” he added.
Canada finished runner-up to New Zealand at last year’s Pacific Four Series. The U.S. was third and Australia fourth.
Rouet plans to travel across Canada this summer to meet people and scout talent.