Ryan reflects on Olympic success

Date published: August 13 2016

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Fiji Sevens head coach Ben Ryan has said he will take some time out to ponder his future after leading the country to its first ever medal.

The islanders, who dominated the Gold Medal match against Great Britain, will return to a hero's welcome in Fiji after a superb tournament.

But for Ryan he admits this could have been his last as Fiji coach.

"I told Fiji that I was leaving after the Olympics – that was always my plan," Ryan told Sky Sports News HQ as he reflected on the journey.

"I just want to have some time to reflect, have some beers with my mates, play a few rounds of golf and go and watch Brentford play. Then I will decide what is next.

"Whatever happens it will be pretty hard to match these last three years. I wake up near the beach with coconut trees in my vista and coach the most remarkable players in a rugby mad nation. This is a moment in my career that I will never forget.

"I want to be a head coach in both codes – in fifteens there is a bit of a black mark against your name with Sevens – I have no idea why. I am the most successful British coach ever in any team sport at the moment and I would love to have a crack at fifteens, but this train that Sevens is on is getting faster, we have now had an Olympic cycle."

It has been an incredible journey for Ryan and Fiji as only two years ago financial concerns had left the team with an uncertain future.

"Day one was no money – I was not paid for five months. The union in Fiji had gone bankrupt and World Rugby had stopped any money because they were worried where it was going. We had nothing really, I was paying for the petrol for the bus to take the boys to training," he said.

"Fast forward three years and we have got a full-time program, we are back to back world champions and we have won Olympic gold all in the space of 24 months. It has been remarkable.

"It has been based on simple leadership and a real simple framework. We are pretty lucky that we have some unbelievable rugby players in our ranks."

He added: "We got everything right in the last two months – from the altitude training in Chile to the banning of phones; from their diet to curfews. We were so tight as a team and hopefully that is what got us over the line."

Ryan is expecting mass crowds to greet the squad when they land in Fiji and after past experience, he knows it will be a special homecoming.

"When we won our first world title two years ago our journey from the airport to the capital took nine hours because the villages were putting babies in front of the bus to stop it so we had to get out and say hello to all the villagers," he said.

"With the Olympics they have already gone into party mode across the nation – I shudder to think what is going to happen. It will be great and remind us all that we are the nations team – we have hotel porters in our team and a prison warden scored the last try for us in that final. It is remarkable.

"Rugby unites the team and the team unites the nation in a way that very few other sports can."

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