What is Ben’s worth?

Fiji Sun - - Comments -

Ti­moci Gau­nav­inaka Nau­sori

Now that the dust has set­tled in Rio and we have show­cased our tal­ents to the world claim­ing that first gold for rugby since 1924, we now pon­der on Ben’s de­ci­sion whether to go or stay. Where do we go to from here? It is easy to say that we have tal­ent and we will again pro­duce play­ers of this cal­i­bre. It is easy to say we can bring a coach who can match Ben Ryan. But to achieve that will be no easy task.

We must not for­get that de­spite all these tal­ents we had, we were hu­mil­i­ated in the last two rugby sev­ens world cups. We lost in Hong Kong five years in a row from 1985 to 1989 and a few more years af­ter that. We have never won a Com­mon­wealth Games rugby sev­ens gold medal and out of the 17 years of IRB se­ries, we have only won 2 un­der Ben Ryan. Ben has re­ceived over 20 of­fers from na­tions with money to burn and real­is­ti­cally there is no doubt that they are in the seven digit cat­e­gory. Now, Fiji must ask, what is Ben Ryan’s worth to us? What is the true value of this gin­ger haired English­man? What hap­pened in Rio shat­tered the struc­ture of the sport­ing world or­der. Never in the his­tory of the Olympics has a tiny is­land na­tion in­flicted such a huge hu­mil­i­a­tion and showed wide dis­par­ity in tal­ents be­tween gold and sil­ver against a gen­uine Olympic Games over­all con­tender and eco­nomic su­per power (Great Bri­tain). Usain Bolt won all his three gold medals by frac­tions of sec­onds over the sil­ver medal­list win­ners. The USA Dream Team (bas­ket­ball) beat Serbia in the fi­nal by 96-66 or about 145 per cent more points.

But Fiji beat Great Bri­tain by 614 per cent (43/7) more points in a sport that is more phys­i­cal than run­ning and more vig­or­ous than bas­ket­ball to win gold.

My ear­lier let­ters in this col­umn be­fore Rio pre­dict­ing that the Fi­jians will bomb Rio, that we will hit the bulls­eye and that Ryan will cre­ate his own legacy all came true. That was no prophecy, but just pure an­a­lyt­i­cal think­ing. Our tourism sec­tor has spent mil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery year to mar­ket Fiji. And here comes Ryan and his boys who sold Fiji to the world twenty times more in just three days.

He has in­stilled dis­ci­pline and con­sis­tency to our sev­ens rugby which Fiji lacked for decades. This has tremen­dously in­creased the value and mar­ketabil­ity of our lo­cal play­ers.

It is ridicu­lous to cat­e­gorise our sev­ens rugby as just a sport. It will be like putting tin, iron and gold in the same bas­ket and say­ing that they are all of equal value be­cause they are all me­tals. Rugby sev­ens is our crown jewel and must be treated as such. This is why I dis­agree with all of those who say that we can­not af­ford to pay Ryan, and his assistants what they de­serve. In fact we just lack the will to do so. The jus­ti­fi­ca­tions are all there plain and clear. What­ever de­ci­sion Ben makes Fiji must re­spect. But let us hope that he will take that con­sul­tancy of­fer in Hol­ly­wood for a few months in the mak­ing of a block­buster movie re­gard­ing our hum­ble be­gin­nings and our road to gold.

If that hap­pens, it will mar­ket Fiji more than 10 times com­pared to our gold from Rio. Cap­tain Osea Kolin­isau cor­rectly summed it up when he said, “Ben, we will al­ways be in­debted to you”.

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