Eric Rush: Say No To Ben Ryan
New Zealand sevens coach great, Eric Rush, who is undecided about whether he will have a crack at replacing Gordon Tietjens, believes the players weren’t fit enough at the Rio Olympics. Tietjens, who stepped down from the NZ sevens coaching job after 22 years, was unable to add an Olympic medal to his many achievements with the national side. Rush questioned whether player power prevented the New Zealand team being at their fittest at the Rio Olympics, and he isn’t keen on the idea of gold medal-winning Fiji coach Ben Ryan replacing the outgoing Gordon Tietjens. Former NZ sevens great Rush and Ryan have been mentioned as potential successors to Tietjens, who, this week stepped down as NZ coach after 22 years. Although he also played 20 games for the All Blacks, Rush, who under the guidance of Tietjens won Commonwealth Games gold medals in 1998 and 2002, carved out a reputation as one NZ’s toughest competitors in the abbreviated game. Now a number of candidates, including NZ women’s sevens coach Sean Horan, Rush and Ryan, have been touted as possible contenders to replace Tietjens following his decision to retire after the side didn’t medal in Rio. Rush is uncertain whether he will have a crack at the role, because has commitments with his supermarket in Kaikohe.
“I would love to do it, that team has been a big part of my life,” Rush said. “But I am in a different chapter of my life at the moment. It’s going really well and I don’t want to upset that part of it.”
RYAN NOWHERE NEAR TIETJENS Rush doesn’t believe NZ Rugby should chase Englishman Ryan, who is now a free agent. Ryan was involved with the England sevens team between 2007- 2013, but never came close to matching Tietjens’ successes- something Rush believes shouldn’t be overlooked. “No, I wouldn’t (want Ryan to coach NZ)- we have got enough good coaches in this country,” Rush emphasised. “Don’t get me wrong, he did a great job with Fiji. “Having the players is 80 per cent of the job for the coach. That last 20 per cent is pretty crucial, and he did that really well with Fiji and I take my hat off to him. He really nailed it for them, but … Everyone is just talking about the Fiji part, they have to remember he was the English coach for a while there too.” New Zealand failed to advance past the quarterfinals in Rio, a loss to Fiji putting an end to Tietjens’ hopes of adding an Olympic gong to the many successes he had with the side on the world circuit and at the Commonwealth Games on multiple occasions.
A rash of injuries didn’t help NZ’s cause, but Rush is adamant they still had the personnel to succeed in Rio and believes the players may have had too much say when it came to Tietjens’ brutal training sessions.
RESTRICTIONS “I think they put too many restrictions on “Titch”,” Rush said. “I know it is all about player management and managing player workloads nowadays, and there is a lot of science around it but the sevens is a different kettle of fish. “The aerobic requirements are way different. It’s the Arthur Lydiard approach. You have to put the Ks in the legs. That’s where we fell over. We definitely had the players, that team was good enough to win that. To me, the players just weren’t in the right condition - that is just my opinion. “From what I saw, there were guys bent over and it wasn’t even halftime.
It tells me there was a certain lack of conditioning. And I never, ever thought I would say that about Gordon Tietjens’ teams.
“I know from being close to it, that he couldn’t train them like he trained us.
Which is good for them (the players), but if the player gets the decision he is going to take the easy road.” Tietjens’ trainings were so rugged that one of the drills was nicknamed “Death”. Rush said he, and his team-mates, thrived because they knew they were superbly conditioned. It was “human nature”, he added, for players to want to ease-up on trainings when they were feeling exhausted. However, he said it was important for them to be at peak fitness in such a fast game. “We hated his trainings, we hated them with a vengeance,” Rush said. “But we would have still lay down in traffic for him, too. When you got the results, nothing builds culture like winning If I thought he was going too crazy, I would go and have a word to him and he would listen to me. The man has won how many gold medals and world series? You don’t go and try to change him. Not if you want to win.” -NZ Herald