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Fiji 7s Coach Gareth Baber Confirmed For Olympics, Talks Ongoing Sponsorship

“The board agreed and endorsed that Gareth’s contract be renewed until after the Olympics and are committed to make sure that Gareth gets the support,”O’Connor said.
16 Jul 2020 10:56
Fiji 7s Coach Gareth Baber Confirmed For Olympics, Talks Ongoing Sponsorship
Fiji Rugby Union CEO, John O’Connor (right) congratulates Fiji Airways Fijian 7s coach Gareth Baber after his contract was extended on July 15, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Making ends meet during tough times is the challenge the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) is going through.

And the battle is ongoing to keep the ball rolling in the hope there will be light at the end of the tunnel sooner than later.

FRU chief executive officer John O’Connor revealed yesterday that talks were ongoing regarding sponsorships and appointing the right people to run the show at Rugby House.

He made the comment after the FRU board members approved the extension of Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach, Gareth Baber’s, contract until the Tokyo Olympics next year. Baber’s contract was to expire on February 5, 2021 had the four-yearly event set for this month took place.

“The board agreed and endorsed that Gareth’s contract be renewed until after the Olympics and are committed to make sure that Gareth gets the support,”O’Connor said.

“We know it’s not normal times, but whatever is needed to prepare the team well, the board and management of FRU will work hard to make sure we support Gareth and the team in their preparation.

“Whatever the situation may be, we are ready to go out there and defend the gold medal at the Olympics,”O’Connor said.

New journey

Baber thanked the FRU and the board members for keeping faith in him.

“Coaching the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team is a huge task and undertaking and I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to continue this journey,”Baber said.

“For me particularly it is a very important day. My responsibility is another year in a strange way. This time if the Olympics have been this year, we would have been in camp preparing.

“Obviously considering the backdrop of the issues with COVID-19 how it has affected everybody, I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity by the board of directors and the people in Fiji as well who have supported us.”

Baber said the work started now to defend the gold medal won by the Ben Ryan-coached side at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“We got to do it again. We got to do it with a renewed energy, work starts now,” Baber said.

“We know how much it means to the country, how much it means to the young people of the country, and I’m very much looking forward to that challenge, which is like no other, considering the nature of where we are at right across the world, the nature of games of sevens as well.”

Sponsorship

O’Connor said talks with major sponsor Fiji Airways are ongoing.

“We are continuing discussions with Fiji Airways, and we fully understand the difficulties they are going through,”O’Connor said.

“Things are difficult for everyone, but we hope to reach some sort of agreement

“Even with the difficulties that sponsors are going through, that will not deter us from providing Gareth the support that he needs.

“We’re looking at options if sponsorships are not available, to make sure that we prepare the teams well, both the men and women teams.

High Performance

O’Connor commended FRU High Performance Unit general manager, Simon Raiwalui.

“Since Simon started we are grateful that he has now brought the 7s into the HPU programme so that we can work in co-ordination together,” the chief executive said.

“Although the finance of the sevens is usually provided from FRU we think it’s an important component for the HPU.”

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj

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