Fiji Sevens head coach Ben Ryan is hoping to inspire the sportspersons in the country by winning the maiden gold medal in the upcoming Rio Olympics for the sevens team.
Fiji have never won a gold medal previously and with the national sevens team featuring in the upcoming Olympics for the first time, it provides them with a golden opportunity to change history.
Ryan joined the Fiji Sevens team as the head coach in September 2013 and has led them to back-to-back Sevens World Series title in the last two years. During his tenure with Fiji, the 44-year-old has led the team to nine titles overall since 2013, making him the most successful coach for the country in the format.
“International sevens is highly volatile; you really can’t be sure day-to-day, minute-to-minute, who’s going to win. The fastest and some of the most gifted rugby players in the world play sevens, so from a coach’s point of view it’s an amazing challenge.
“We do play high risk, but we practice it! With Fiji, we arguably have the highest risk, most flamboyant sports team in the world. We score more points than anyone else and we’re unpredictable, and that’s what makes us a danger.
“So the goal in Rio is a pretty obvious one.
“Although Fiji have never won an Olympic medal, silver and bronze is not good enough for the sevens team. Winning that medal at the Olympic Games would create a legacy that would hopefully create a ripple effect throughout sport in the pacific.
“I would hope a gold medal would see people think, ‘these guys have done this in rugby and they’ve come from the same background as me, so why can’t I do it in another sport?’.”
Prior to his association with Fiji, Ryan had a phenomenal success as the coach of the England Sevens team for five years between 2007 and 2012. Out of the 56 tournaments in the IRB series with England Sevens, Ryan led them to a semi-final or a better position on 28 occasions while also taking him to the 2003 World Cup final.
The former utility back also lauded the Loughborough University where he graduated with a bachelor degree in Sports Science.
“Loughborough had a huge influence on my career as you’re just surrounded by so many people working at the very highest level, and you feel as though you’re in this special place where you’ve got a little bit more information on things than others.
“Loughborough is a bit of bubble, in that the very best in sport operate here and so you gain that desire and understanding of what it takes to win. I still use things that I learnt in my first and second year of undergraduate study on an almost daily basis – they’re some of my key values.”
The Fiji Sevens men's team are grouped along USA, Argentina and Brazil in Pool A of the competition which runs from 9th to 11th August.