August 13, 2016 2:50 pm

Ryan reminisces about Rio preparations

Following Fiji’s historical win at the Rio Olympics Rugby 7s competition yesterday, team coach Ben Ryan said this was a moment in his career that he would never forget. In an interview with Sky Sports, he said it was no easy task to develop the players from grassroots level however financial constraints failed to deter the […]

Following Fiji’s historical win at the Rio Olympics Rugby 7s competition yesterday, team coach Ben Ryan said this was a moment in his career that he would never forget.

Fiji 7s Head Coach Ben Ryan. (Ian Muir/Facebook)
Coach Ben Ryan. (Ian Muir/Facebook)

In an interview with Sky Sports, he said it was no easy task to develop the players from grassroots level however financial constraints failed to deter the team’s focus and only proved to be a motivating factor.

RYAN: “Day one was no money, not paid for 5 months. FRU (Fiji Rugby Union) had gone bankrupt, the union in Fiji and World Rugby had stopped sending money because they were worried on where it was going.”

“We had nothing really, I mean I was paying for the petrol for the bus to take the boys to training and fast forward three years we’ve got a full time program, we’ve got overseas coaches, we’ve got myself, Chris Cracknell and the rest of the guys are a full time team, double back to back champions and now a Olympic gold all in the space of 24 months.”

He credited the team’s impeccable physique to a strict reduced carbohydrate diet.

RYAN: “We took carbohydrates out of their diet for two months and brought it in the last three days before their competition to give them a little bit more of a boost and based on what I knew would work for them and after the final one of the boys asked can we play another tournament, they had that much energy.”

“We got everything right up to the last two months of the altitude training in Chile to what we were doing in Fiji, to the last few days, to the banning of phones, change in diet to the curfews. We were so tight as a team which hopefully made a difference and got us over the line.

He said he anticipated a frenzied crowd of fans awaiting the team’s arrival into the country next week.

RYAN: “With the Olympics they’ve already gone into party mode across the nation, the 455 islands. I imagine they (crowd) will run onto the tarmac. It will be great and well deserved for the boys and it will remind everyone that this a nations team. Its remarkable the story about them, the team unites the nation and there are probably very few other occasions I can think of in global sports where thats the case.”

Ryan confirmed that he would be stepping away from the spotlight for a brief while to reflect on the next course of action he would take regarding other prospects in his coaching career.

RYAN: “I told Fiji a few months ago that I would be leaving after the Olympics, that was always my plan. I’m just going to take some time off to reflect whether its 15’s or 7’s next and whatever challenge home or abroad is next on the list.”

Meanwhile, the Fijian Government announced yesterday that the team will be receiving $30,000 and a public holiday on the 22nd of August 2016.