7s Did Us Proud, But Ben’s Future

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say from yesterday’s FBC programme 4 The Record. The world watched the full glory of sevens rugby last Friday when the
15 Aug 2016 09:00
7s Did Us Proud, But Ben’s Future
MISSION ACCOMPOLISHED: Team Fiji women’s rugby sevens head coach and men’s skills coach Chris Cracknell, left, and men’s head coach Ben Ryan at Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Bruce Southwick/ZoomFiji.

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say from yesterday’s FBC programme 4 The Record.

The world watched the full glory of sevens rugby last Friday when the fleet-footed Fijians reaffirmed their supremacy with their gold winning Olympic performance in Rio.

Commentators ran out of superlatives to describe how the Fijians made a great Great Britain team look like a second rate side in the one sided final.

This was a sublime performance built on discipline with a low error count and a deliberate game plan.

It looked like they had left it to the last game to showcase their talents and qualities.

In the pool games, they looked lethargic, and tentative and they did just enough to hang in there for the win. In the quarter-final and semi-final, they began to show what they are capable of doing. When they convincingly beat Japan in the semis, they were signs that they would peak in the final. And they did.

The strategy of using the big men up front, Semi Kunatani, Leone Nakarawa and Jasa Veremalua to punch holes into the Great Britain defence paid dividends.

They would commit a number of tacklers, create space before they offloaded to supporting players to a clear run to the line.

They would vary the position of attacks and kept the opposition guessing. Great Britain could not figure out how to contain the Fijians who won in an emphatic fashion.

This was near-perfect performance and it was a joy to watch as they displayed why they are the champions. It was their best game of the whole tournament which they went through unbeaten.

It was a fitting outcome  to rugby’s campaign to be included as an Olympic sport. Fijian sevens icon Waisale Serevi and other sevens greats like legendary All Blacks Jonah Lomu and Eric Rush spearheaded a strong World Rugby lobby.

The re-introduction of rugby in the Olympics and the way it has turned out has lifted the image of the event because of its huge following as a global game.

Its economic implications for Fijian rugby and Fiji as a whole are significant because of the exposure provided by the Olympics in real time television alone.

The Prime Minister, Voreqe  Bainimarama’s presence in Rio, provided a major boost in terms of Fijian profile and morale. From a sports perspective it was great to see the PM’s commitment to sport.

As a mark of fine gesture he chose to sit with the ordinary people instead of watching from the VIP section. The break with normal protocol demonstrated his desire to be with the people.

I welcome the holiday to celebrate the Rio success . The $30,000 bonus payment for each of the players if they win gold was a great incentive.

While all the players have been receiving accolades we should not forget their coach Ben Ryan who has been the chief architect of our mission to win gold in Rio.

When he accepted to coach here he worked for free for the first few months.

He also made it public that his ultimate goal is to win gold in Rio. If he won the World series but failed to win in Rio, he still failed.

Now, that he has achieved his goal what are his future plans? No doubt he wants to leave on a high. He has also told the media in Rio that was better than being sacked. I don’t think he wants to be in the  shoes of Sir Gordon Tietjens who has been criticized in New Zealand for NZ’s dismal performance. He has been NZ’s coach since 1994. That’s  a long time, 22 years.

The reality is that Ben Ryan could move on to a new job, a coaching stint in another country.

I would suggest that we retain him to help John McKee in the 15s and may take over when McKee leaves and at the same time mentor a new coach for sevens.

But for the time being we congratulate him and his reps for winning gold.

We are all proud of you!



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