Baber to complete Fiji 7s head coach term November end

It has been a tough decision, Fiji’s Tokyo Olympics gold medal winning coach Gareth Baber says of his decision to end his term early as Fiji 7s head coach.

He finishes off on 30 November, to pursue XVs interest.

“It has been toughest of times and the most wonderful,” Baber said of his five-year coaching stint in Fiji.

“My wife is upset that we’re not immediately returning to Fiji. It was always my intention when I came in to face the challenge of coaching the best 7s team in the world and the best rugby nation in the world. I would challenge myself and look at ways that I could do things slightly differently but ultimately represent FIjian nation in the way that they have come to expect. I believe that part of the satisfaction at the end of the Olympics is that some of the boys that have come through in a short period of time benefitted massively from what I believe was a good program for them to be involved in.

“I had spoken to John (FRU CEO) as well of my ambitions in XVs and I want to develop that.

“I would like to thank everybody concerned in the journey that mine and my family have been on for the five years. It’s been the toughest of times and has been the most wonderful of times as well.

“I certainly appreciate the support of the Prime Minister, the government, the Sports Commission, the FRU and stakeholders, sponsors particularly the supporters for making me feel welcomed, keeping me with my feet to the fire, as we say, in the understanding how much it means to everybody in Fiji to be on top of the 7s game, but also the top of the rugby union.

“I really want to push on and show people, and show myself that the next challenge is not just 7s but also XVs. Taking the decision that I did, I knew what would be entailed to go another three years . For the program itself, I wanted to make sure that for those players and for the nation of Fiji the person who does that go through the same challenge as I did and Ben before me, in getting to a position where you can put a team on a podium in the Olympic Games which was ultimately what the challenge was.

“At the end of November, I will be moving on, but my love for Fiji has not diminished. I still very much want to be with you there at some point to say some big thank yous to people and to celebrate what was achieved in not just the men’s game, but in the men’s game as well and how successful that was for us all as a Fijian nation.”

Fiji Rugby Union CEO John O’Connor said it was a sad day for Fiji Rugby, expressing the union’s appreciation to Baber for the work he has done for the union and the pathways he has set for Fiji 7s, allowing some young players to make their mark on the global stage.

“It has been an emotional journey for me. The Board has accepted Gareth Baber’s request to be released early from his contract. His last day of work for Fiji Rugby is on 30 November. Thank you for the last five years. You will always be a Fijian wherever you may be. We wish you all the best. Thank you for the service to Fiji Rugby and the 7s team, culminating with the gold medal win.

“We have always known of his intentions …to focus on XVs, and we respect his decision and we are in appreciation of the work that he has done to Fiji Rugby and the Fiji 7s team especially to the young boys in making them stand out in their games.

Fijiana 7s coach Saiasi Fuli will oversee both the Fiji 7s men’s and women’s preparation for the opening round of 2021/22 HSBC World 7s Series in Dubai next month.

Fiji Rugby intends to advertise the vacant post from tomorrow.

More to follow…

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