Fiji confirms Ryan's replacement

AFP
by AFP

Hong Kong sevens coach Gareth Baber was named as the new mentor of Olympic and world champions Fiji on Friday in what he described as an "incredible opportunity".

The Welshman will take up the post in early 2017 on a four-year contract, allowing him to see the Pacific islanders through to their Olympic title defence in Tokyo in 2020, the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) said.

Baber said he had "tremendous affection" for Hong Kong, the spiritual home of sevens as the organiser of its most famous tournament, but he also relished the chance to work with Fiji rugby.

Gareth Baber (right) will take over the Fiji job. Photo: AFP"Coaches, like players, need to constantly challenge themselves; I want to continuously strengthen my knowledge of the game, and the competition level that Fiji operates at will provide that opportunity," he said.

Fiji won their first ever Olympic medal when they hammered Britain 43-7 in the men's sevens final in Rio in August, as rugby rejoined the Olympic programme after a gap of 92 years.

The island team, known for their flamboyant play and hulking physiques, have also won the last two sevens world series under their outgoing coach, Englishman Ben Ryan.

Baber's Hong Kong narrowly missed out on a place in Rio when they were beaten by Japan in the final of this year's Asian qualifying tournament.

Hong Kong also won their third Asian sevens title in five years earlier this month.

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