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Ryan: Fiji 7s is a brand
6:10 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2017, Fiji

 Former  national 7s coach Ben Ryan said it was time to franchise the abbreviated code and make the most of the Fiji 7s team's status as the most marketable team in the world.

"What we must remember is the massive brand Fiji 7s is. It is iconic. We play 7s like no other team," Ryan said.
"It has a gold medal winning team behind it. We are double world champions, the boys have come from nowhere, we've got a book in production at the moment and a feature film around it.

"It's a case now of making the most of it. We haven't got the financial clout behind it. We should … being Olympic champions." "I'm not making it personal but I'm saying this for the benefit of the player. The people outside Fiji, they see the bigger picture now, they see the potential, it's time to take the next step and move the Fijian team to the next chapter.

"It would scare the living daylights out of the other teams if Fiji suddenly has more money than everybody else and we are using it properly, with proper facilities and we have an academy. The other teams wouldn't have a chance."

Now an HSBC ambassador, Ryan said the franchise would allow our national sevens rugby players to earn as much money than every player in the series.

"I think we just need to be humble and accept that the sevens team would be a bit better off in the commercial hands and run professionally.

"And for that to happen we need FRU to agree that, I hope they do if they want the team to be winning the world series every year.

Ryan said he knew a lot of sponsors, mainly overseas-based, who would want to sponsor the team but would not do so if it involved F RU.

This, he added, was due to previous financial history of the FRU.
"FRU really do need to swallow their pride for the betterment of the team and the nation's team we need to allow this to happen," Ryan said.

The first step, Ryan said, was to form a body that would run the franchise.

"I'm sure there would be various people that can come on board. I know some very good people that would run it very well commercially.

"And we would pour huge amounts of money to the program, the boys would be paid better than any other player in other nations, it's up to the FRU."

Ryan said the top player in our sevens team would be earning at least 10 times less than the top player in the world.

"That's not right. We are the best team in the world. Now our standard of living is not 10 times worse costing than United Kingdom or South Africa so you know they are being underpaid compared to what everybody else is on and everybody knows that," Ryan said.

He added that some of our players have signed contracts for $10,000 for the series.

Meanwhile, Olympics gold medal winning coach Ben Ryan says the standard of competition in the World Series has dropped slightly because of the departure of key players from some teams.

The HSBC sevens ambassador said the standard was much higher last year as it was the Olympics year.

And while South Africa is the in-form team in the series, they were not playing as good as they did last year.

"I think this is going to happen a year after the Olympics. And then we'll slowly pump up again as we get closer to next year's Rugby World Cup, Commonwealth and Olympic qualifiers, so it's a year we really don't want to repeat.

"So in the next Olympic cycle, we need to do something about so that post-Olympics competition is still very very high level."

While some teams are in transition and saying they are "rebuilding", Ryan doesn't believe it was a valid excuse.

"It doesn't really, you don't rebuild in sevens, you play to win. There may be some new players coming but as you know in Fiji this is not a sport for development for us, it is a sport to win.

"And I am sure it's an easy thing for some coaches to say but everyone's out there to win and they do not really care about development, they've got players they are coaching, that are trying to do better. All the teams are doing that so I don't really buy that rebuilding bit."

South African coach Neil Powell differed in opinion saying there is still quality competition in the series.

"I think it's still a good competition out there, I think there's some quality sides that have some consistency like England, they still have the same squad that played in the series last year and even USA got a lot of players that played last year in the series,

"I won't say the standard has dropped, I think there's still some quality sides, good sevens rugby, I think England is playing good rugby winning this tournament."


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