Opinion | SPORTS

Why Gareth Baber Is Better Than Mike Friday

When we compare that to the success of Baber, there is a big difference. Baber when he started was generally a newcomer to the series. He came in at a time when Fiji was still celebrating the historic gold medal win at the 2016 Olympic Games.
05 Jun 2019 18:17
Why Gareth Baber Is Better Than Mike Friday
Series coaches (left-right) Mike Friday of USA, Gareth Baber

Opinion:

How on earth was USA 7s rugby coach Mike Friday became the Capgemini Coach of the Series? The committee endorsed by World Rugby to decide on the matter must be way out of touch when they preferred Friday ahead of Fiji Airways Fijian 7s coach Gareth Baber. Probably, they had thought of a repetition of last year’s Paris 7s where USA would sneak away in the eleventh hour to win the series but it was not to be.

No one denies the fact that coach Friday, is a very charismatic speaker and a good motivator. However, while coaching Kenya and later USA, he has taken them to many Cup finals but at most times they always fall short.

With USA, Friday has guided them to win a few tournaments which was mostly theirs anyway but never when it comes to the Series, Sevens Rugby World Cup or the Olympics.

Actually, that has been the story of the man.

BIG DIFFERENCE

When we compare that to the success of Baber, there is a big difference. Baber when he started was generally a newcomer to the series. He came in at a time when Fiji was still celebrating the historic gold medal win at the 2016 Olympic Games.

The expectations of a rugby mad nation on this Welshman was great and the fact that he had to start from scratch was something else.

Baber had to rebuild a new team after majority of the players (with the exception of one) from the Olympic Games side left after securing overseas contracts.

In his first year, Baber took time to settle in and worked with what he had and by the second year, his new look side climbed to second place in the Series table but unfortunately they were pipped by South Africa, right in the last tournament.

However, the highlight of their performance was winning five tournaments in the series, a feat that was never achieved by any Fijian team ever since the series started.

That is to win half of the 10 tournaments in the series.

Despite, losing in the gold medal final of the Commonwealth Games and later the semi-final of the Sevens Rugby World Cup last year in San Francisco, Baber was able to learn from where they went wrong and worked on from there.

This reflected in their success in winning the series where again they have equaled last year’s feat by winning five tournaments proving that what they had achieved earlier was not a fluke.

Not only that the Fijians became the first team in the world to win the prestigious Hong Kong 7s crown five years in a row.

That in itself should have been enough for Baber to win the award and to top it off is the UL Excellence awards he got in Hamilton and Paris.

MILES BEHIND

Another highlight of Baber’s achievement is that he coaches a side that is rated as the 12th most inexperienced team out of the 16 that are participating in the Series.

According to World Rugby stats, the 13 players, Baber selects, play around 169 to 180 tournaments compared to Friday’s USA, who are the most experienced side as their 13 players play over 400 tournaments. To coach an inexperienced team to achieve such results, speaks volume of the coach’s calibre. For Friday, he may be a good coach but looking at the results, he’s definitely miles behind Baber.

Edited by Grace Narayan

Feedbackleonec@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: