Rugby: Ex-Fiji 7s coach wants split for higher earnings

Former Fiji Rugby Sevens team coach Ben Ryan at a meet-and-greet event at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on April 13, 2016.
Former Fiji Rugby Sevens team coach Ben Ryan at a meet-and-greet event at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on April 13, 2016. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

WELLINGTON • Former Fiji rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan said yesterday that the team he led to Olympic glory earlier this year should split from the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) to ensure they are managed properly.

He said the players in the team who won gold when rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio in August are out of contract, and being paid only a modest per diem allowance for their services.

The Englishman, who left his post after the Games, questioned the FRU's handling of the team.

"What does alarm me is that we have one of the most marketable, iconic sports teams - they won back-to-back World Series titles, they are Olympic gold medallists," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"If we can't market them properly and get their value and what they're worth so the boys and the programme can get the money and resources that they need, then I think it's time for us to look at the whole system."

He suggested Fiji sevens should become a commercial entity separate from the FRU.

"It would be run commercially, transparently and for the first time, you would get proper funding coming in without any worries around governance, having to pay off debt from various other things," he said.

It is not the first time he has criticised the FRU for not paying its players adequately and it had prompted the organisation to hit back earlier this month.

"It seems it is difficult for him to move on," the FRU said in a statement, expressing disappointment at his "constant remarks" about the team.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-Fiji 7s coach wants split for higher earnings'. Print Edition | Subscribe