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Gollings Fills In Big Shoes

Fiji’s head coach talks about winning Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 and discusses what has been a big year for him personally. Ben Gollings had some big shoes to fill when he followed in the footsteps of Ben Ryan and Gareth Baber as coach of the Fiji men’s sevens team in December 2021.
18 Sep 2022 12:00
Gollings Fills In Big Shoes
Fiji 7's World Cup winning Head Coach upon arrival at Nadi Airport after the Rugby World Cup in South Africa.

Fiji’s head coach talks about winning Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 and discusses what has been a big year for him personally.

Ben Gollings had some big shoes to fill when he followed in the footsteps of Ben Ryan and Gareth Baber as coach of the Fiji men’s sevens team in December 2021.

Both had become heroes in their ad­opted nation for leading the team to Olympic glory in 2016 and 2021 re­spectively.

England legend Gollings came into the job with a virtually un­touchable playing CV but in in­ternational coaching terms, he was still largely untested having had spells with two non-core HSBC World Rugby Sevens Se­ries teams, China and Singa­pore.

Winning his first tourna­ment in charge, in Singapore in April, was one way of win­ning over any doubters.

But privately Gollings would have known that any­thing less than a gold medal at either the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham or at Rugby World Cup Sevens or both, would be deemed a big disappointment by the rug­by-mad island population.

Fiji fell just short in the former, losing 31-7 to a rampant Blitzboks team, but came good in Cape Town to beat New Zealand 29-12 and deliver their first Rugby World Cup Sevens gold medal since 2005, and their first ever outside of Hong Kong.

A BIG YEAR

Coach Gollings said: “Obviously, I knew it was a big year coming in. We had two main objectives – Commonwealth Games and World Cup – and we fell just short with the Commonwealth Games.

“But we knew what we had left in the tank and the ability to win this tournament and for the team, it’s been brilliant because it is 17 years since Fiji last won it. It is huge for Fiji.

“These boys have been fantastic this whole week. They set themselves a goal and they came and finished the job this evening, and it was just incredible.

“For us, it was about managing these very long days and the players did that brilliant­ly.

“It is not easy spending the whole day get­ting ready for 14 minutes of rugby, so that was a huge positive for us.

“And the balance within the team was positive. We had the ability to put any seven out on the field and we knew they would do what they needed to do.

“They’ve worked hard and they deserve everything they have done today.”

“A BLESSING”

Gollings, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series’ all-time top points-scorer (2,652), was visibly emotional after the final whistle in Cape Town.

He said: “It was a tear of joy, a tear of be­ing proud, I know how much this means to the players, the nation, Fiji, rugby, and to be standing on the side-line and witnessing it and being a part of it was very emotional but a big joy as well.

“It’s a blessing to get to work with the peo­ple I work with.

“They are a great group and incredibly tal­ented and it is all about managing them and bringing them together and letting them enjoy themselves and play the game they love.

“It has been a whirlwind and it will take a little while for it to sink in.”

NO TIME TO REST

No doubt the class of 2022 will also get the same star treatment but Gollings knows that this is only the beginning, and there is no time to stand still.

“It is an opportunity now for us to build with a new group of players. As a team they have been known as the Olympic champi­ons, and now we can add this World Cup.

“For us, its three weeks, three deserved weeks, off after a pretty intense period of tournament and travel but it is really not that long because in October we start again.

“We go to Japan and play a game there for the Olympic legacy and about 10 days after that we are in Hong Kong for the Hong Sev­ens and the start of the new season so there is not much rest for us.”

Source: World Rugby



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