SPORTS

Analysis: After Ben And Gareth, Who Dares Take Up The Biggest 7s Rugby Job In The World?

Whoever lands the job has a clear-cut mission statement-defend the gold medal in the next three years and make a three-peat at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
29 Aug 2021 16:44
Analysis: After Ben And Gareth, Who Dares Take Up The Biggest 7s Rugby Job In The World?
Ben Ryan during the 2014/15 World Sevens Series in Dubai. Photo: World Rugby

Deservedly so, it’s the biggest sevens rugby job in the world, no dispute.

It’s a perfect fit or description to whoever is the next coach of the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s coach.

Why?

We are the Olympic champions twice and that is no mean feat but a massive achievement of immense proportion.

Whoever lands the job has a clear-cut mission statement-defend the gold medal in the next three years and make a three-peat at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

We are the first to win a hat-trick in at the Hong Kong Sevens, then a pinnacle of the world 7s circuit. But that’s midget in stature.

It would of Olympics proportion if we strike gold for the third time in Paris.

That’s how important that we need to land the right man for the job.

Kudos to those who were behind the scene at Rugby House in selecting Englishman Ben Ryan and Welshman Gareth Baber for the top job in the last two Olympics.

Ryan won our first ever gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Baber-coached side defended it splendidly at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last month.

Both went through turbulent and testing times before reaching the epitome of 7s success.

Ryan worked without pay for the first three months and the suffering of the people of Fiji brought about by Cyclone Winston hindered preparations.

But through sacrifice, sound management and care, he produced Olympic champions.

Likewise, Baber, a former head coach of the elite rugby sevens programme at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in 2013, and squad were away from the families for months and endured the hardships brought about by COVID-19 pandemic.

A top class pedigree in sevens, having been assistant coach when Wales captured the Plate at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, Baber saw the ‘incredible opportunity’ to challenge himself to reach the next level.

He did it in style in Tokyo last month.

But would he ever take up the role for the next three years?

Now in Wales seeking input from his family before making his decision, Baber has options to pursue following his Olympic success.

Like, Ryan, what is there to coach after the Olympics success?

He could take up coaching in 15s or takes charge of a 7s elite programme.

The Fiji Rugby Union is keeping Baber on the roster although the Fiji National Sports Commission executive chairman Peter Mazey has clarified that grant allocations for overseas coaches has been reduced in the new season.

This means that better offers from abroad could tip the swing for greener pastures for Baber.

So one option we have is to buck the trend and appoint a local.

And the best man for the job is Saiasi Fuli who coached the Team Fiji women’s team (Fijiana) to win bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last month.

Fuli was in charge of local based players and officials and produced a formula which toppled the Aussies at the Oceania 7s in Townsville in June and in the quarterfinal of the Tokyo Olympics.

His team also took New Zealand to the wire in the semifinal before losing 12-17 in extra time.

There are capable hands who could assist him like veteran strength and conditioning coach, Naca Cawanibuka, physiotherapist William Kwoong and current captain Seremaia ‘Jerry’ Tuwai who could be 35 in 2024.

Let’s not forget that the trio were double medal gold medal winners having achieving success in Rio and Tokyo.

But the bottom line is we need the right man for the biggest 7s job in the world.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj



Fijisun Ad Space


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Tower Insurance
Advertise here
Covid 19 - SPC
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper