Utiko Nabunobuno, Lautoka
A lot has been said recently about our now renowned 7s coach leaving Fiji Rugby. Some have said that he is starting to distance himself from Fiji Rugby after the Rio gold triumph, now that his market value has increased dramatically.
With all due respect to the gentleman, if we look at it from another angle, I think that it was not him who raised Fiji 7s rugby profile, but rather it was Fiji 7s that raised Ben Ryan’s profile. He accepted the coaching job, even when he knew FRU could not pay him the right amount, because he knew that it was his only chance of tasting glory this time. If he had coached any other team, whether it be New Zealand or Great Britain, his team would not have been on the winning podium.
Like it or not, it was Fiji’s destiny to win the Rio gold, whether Serevi, Tietjens, or Ryan was coach. It is no doubt Ryan has helped us win backto-back series titles, plus the gold in Rio. However, Fijians are known to be the best 7s rugby players the world over, and the fact that majority of the 7s rugby powerhouses and top rugby competitions in the world boast Fijian athletes as among its best players, is a testament to that fact. We are the best 7s team in the world, and we have won so many sevens titles in the past before the introduction of the World Seven Series. It is indeed true that rugby made the tiny dot Fiji shine like a star on the world map, but it was our brand of entertaining, unorthodox play that put rugby on to the world stage, and finally on to the Olympics.
Fittingly, it is the Fijian players playing that day that took the evolution of rugby and the Olympics to a whole new level. So, if Ben wants to go, convey to him our appreciations, and fare him well. The world will always be mesmerised by Fijian rugby, with or without him.
Long live Fijian Rugby!!