WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Sep 2 – Fiji rugby officials accepted Friday that they had lost gold-medal winning sevens maestro Ben Ryan and confirmed they would now advertise for a new coach.
Both rugby officials and the government have courted Ryan since the sevens team won Fiji’s first ever Olympic medal, hoping the 44-year-old Englishman would stay.
He has been awarded Fiji’s highest civilian offer, been showered with gifts including a prime parcel of land in the South Pacific island nation, and talks were under way to give Ryan and his family Fiji passports.
But Fiji Rugby Union chief executive John O’Connor said it had become apparent that Ryan, who has received several lucrative offers since his Olympic triumph, was going to move on.
“The Fiji Rugby Union has today confirmed that after discussions with coach Ben Ryan, that the position of Fiji sevens head coach will be advertised,’ O’Connor said in a statement.
“The discussions with Ben indicates his desire to take a break from rugby by returning home to England and to explore options for his future undertaking.”
O’Connor said the Fiji Rugby Union would have been glad to renew the contract but they had to respect Ryan’s decision.
“Ryan is most welcome to reapply for the position should he have a change of heart,” he added.