The Ryan legacy

What next for Fiji rugby

AFTER the glory of Olympic gold at Rio de Janeiro, expectations in Fiji will be huge heading into the World Series next year and the Rugby Sevens World Cup in 2018. Back-to back winners of the World Rugby Sevens Series in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, Fiji has also won the World Cup in the abbreviated code twice.

Fijian rugby supporters will now expect to ride the wave generated in Rio to victory in the 2016-2017 series and the World Cup in the San Francisco Bay Area in two years. But Fiji’s recent success has been due as much to its huge player talent pool as it has to the strategic planning of head coach, Englishman Ben Ryan. The road to gold was not without its pot-holes and unpaved surfaces.

Lack of finances, indiscipline, politics within the Fiji Rugby Union andthe expectations of fans that the team would win every match made Ryan’s task close to insurmountable. The former England sevens coach’s success in the tropics was due to – in one word – perseverance. Despite the fact that he went unpaid for five months and often had no money for petrol to take players to training by bus or provide bottled water after a team hit-out, Ryan plugged away at the job.

There was a challenge ahead – winning the series and taking the Olympic gold. This ginger-haired genius knew that the ultimate pay day would begin – not during the hard yards of coaching – but on the day his team mounted the victors’ podium at Deodoro Stadium. With the Olympic gold secure, perse the world is now Ryan’s oyster. official Maral Gel website

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