Ben Ryan V Sir Gordon Tietjens

I am asked on a regular basis by knowledgeable rugby fans who is the best 7s rugby coach in the world today, well the answer is both simple and complicated.
06 Nov 2016 15:04
Ben Ryan V Sir Gordon Tietjens
From Left: Sir Gordon Tietjens and Ben Ryan

I am asked on a regular basis by knowledgeable rugby fans who is the best 7s rugby coach in the world today, well the answer is both simple and complicated.

The simple part is the fact there are two 7s Rugby coaches who stand head and shoulders above the rest by a long shot and that is Ben Ryan aka “Ratu Peni Rayani Latianara”  and his arch-rival Sir Gordon Tietjens.

The two coaches have both enjoyed incredible success during their coaching careers and I have had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing both of them at length and asking the difficult questions other  people may not ask.

What will be surprising to many is the fact that they are both quite similar in their approach to the game and whether they like it or not their coaching styles on and off the pitch have the same foundations needed to mould a world class winning team.


Ben Ryan

Ben Ryan’s first tournament as coach was for England in Wellington 2007 and up to and including the Dubai Sevens 2012 he was in charge for 56 World Series Sevens Tournaments, over 300 games – the longest serving England Sevens head coach of all time.

In September 2013 Ryan took up the reigns as the coach for Fiji. He won six tournaments, two in 2013/2014 season and four in the 2014 and 2015.

In May 2015, Fiji were crowned the overall winners of the 2014/ 2015 series giving Ryan his first ever Sevens World Series title. He repeated the win with Fiji in the 2015/2016 season.

In 2016 Ryan led Fiji to a Gold Medal at the Rio Olympic Games a great achievement and the best ever by any coach for Fiji, he stepped down as head coach after these games.


Sir Gordon Tietjens Facts

Sir Gordon Tietjens took over as New Zealand’s 7s coach in 1994 after a glittering career with numerous wins during his reign he stepped down as head coach in 2016 after a run of 22 years.

It is an incredible feat, which made him New Zealand most successful 7s coach

He won 12 World Series titles and has won gold medals on each of the four occasions the Commonwealth Games has hosted the 7s Rugby tournament.

During the 2016 season Tietjens team lost the Sevens World Series and also crashed out of the Olympic Games in Rio, leading to his resignation.



What I found out during my various interviews with the two of them was the fact that they agree on a multitude of approaches to the game.

Both agreed that in order to become a successful 7s player, fitness, dedication and discipline where major factors in becoming victorious. Without any of these three factors, success was not going to happen.

In regards to their training methods I was surprised to know that their squad training sessions were sometimes harder than the actual games they played against other countries. The method to this strategy was both felt if they could get past the intense training and practice sessions playing the opposition would be made much easier.

I asked both about whether they would pick a talented player who had discipline problems or a not so talented, but well disciplined player. The answer was simple they both told me they would pick the not so talented but disciplined player each and every time.  This was due to the fact that rugby is a team sport where everybody has to contribute like a well oiled machine.



Tietjens vast experience on the 7s circuit easily outweighs that of Ryan, but if you are looking at today’s standing or even over the last 24 months then Ben Ryan is leaps and bounds ahead of his rival, therefore if you are asking who is today’s best 7s coach is it emphatically and without doubt Ben Ryan and the facts back this up.

Basically Ryan as a coach has won every title available during the last 24 months from World Series titles to Olympic Gold, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Edited by Paula Tuvuki

The writer is a Fiji Sun columnist.

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