The Fiji Rugby Union has today confirmed that Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber has decided not to renew his contract with the Fiji Rugby and will pursue a new opportunity in the 15s game.
FRU Chief Executive John O’Connor highlighted that while the Fiji Rugby Union Board had endorsed the continuation of Coach Baber’s appointment until the next Olympics in 2024 and a contract offer was made to him, after carefully considering his options, the interest & wellbeing for his family and his desire to coach a professional club in the 15s game, reluctantly and with great sadness, he has decided to decline the offer.
“We totally respect the decision made by Gareth and thank him for his service to Fiji Rugby and to Fiji. We are all proud of Gareth achievement culminating in the gold medal defense at the Tokyo Olympics 2020,” O’Connor said.
Gareth has sought consideration to be released early from his contract by 30 November 2021 and the Board has accepted and endorsed his request as such Gareth’s last day with the Fiji Rugby Union will be on the Tuesday, 30 November 2021.
O’Connor also confirmed that the position of the Fijian 7s Head Coach will be advertised.
“While we are going through the process of advertising the position and going through the recruitment process, the Fijiana 7s Head Coach Saiasi Fuli will be overseeing the Fijian 7s program and will be supported by dual Olympic Gold Medal winner and Captain Jerry Tuwai as the Team prepare for the Dubai 7s which will be held from the 26th to the 27th of November,” O’Connor explained.
“While Coach Fuli is committed to the Fijiana 7s programme until the World Cup in South Africa, he has also agreed to assist in preparing the Fijian 7s Team and we are thankful and grateful to him for agreeing to take up the challenge of preparing the Fijian 7s Team with the support of Jerry Tuwai.
Coach Baber will be providing support to the Team and to Coach Fuli as the Team builds up to the Dubai 7s.
Coach Baber has thanked the FRU Board for the offer of a contract extension for the next three years and for allowing him the time and space to carefully consider his options prior to making a decision on his future.
Baber said “It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform Fiji Rugby and the people of Fiji that I will not be accepting the contract offer to coach the Fijian 7s Team to the next Olympic Games. I have a burning ambition to challenge my coaching again in the 15’s environment and know that I must immerse myself in this if I’m truly to be measured and to progress in my coaching career.
“I’m an individual who is driven by the challenge of the sport that I love, and this is what brought me to Fiji in the first place, the chance to coach the best 7s team in the best rugby nation in the world.
“My family and I have lived the sporting experiences in Fiji that I never thought would have been possible and I cannot express my gratitude enough to the FRU Board and everyone for supporting us on our journey,” said Baber.
Meanwhile, the CEO Fiji Rugby sincerely thanked the Fiji Government and especially the President of Fiji Rugby and Prime Minister for rewarding both the Teams for their achievements in the Olympic Games which the players have confirmed already receiving. He also thanked the Government for rewarding Jerry with the title for his land.
He also thanked Government and the Fiji National Sports Commission for assisting the Union in getting highly qualified professional coaches who develop our talented players to perform at international standard allowing players to win gold and bronze medal wins at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.