6 February, 2018, 12:00 am
SAMOA 7s coach and former New Zealand mentor Sir Gordon Tietjens, regarded as the best coach in the world, was among the first to congratulate the Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team on winning the New Zealand 7s title in Hamilton on Sunday.
Sir Gordon said Fiji deserved the victory because of its status in rugby’s abbreviated code
“They are the best in the world,” he said after the Gareth Baber-coached side beat South Africa 24-17 in the Cup final.
“In the final, I just wanted them to win, they deserve it.
“They had tough roads against Samoa and New Zealand and to win against South Africa was a great result.”
The NZ champions beat Sir Gordon’s men 12-10 in the quarter-finals, ousted hosts New Zealand 14-12 in the semis before the come-from-behind 24-17 victory against the Blitzbokke.
The champions were hosted to a victory celebration in Hamilton on Sunday night by the Fijian community in New Zealand and were rewarded with monetary assistance collected by community members.
A strong group of fans serenaded the team yesterday at the Auckland Airport before the journey back home.
Sir Gordon said there were a few positives from their quarter-final match
“We put a lot of pressure on Fiji and it was one of the best Pacific rivalries and we were sad at the end to lose it and we are hanging on and hanging in.
“Only good teams can do that. Fiji ran the length (of the field) and they deserved to win.
“It was very, very close.”
He said Fiji deserved the win.
“I am happy that the title is with us and Fiji deserved the win. They are the Olympics champions,” Sir Gordon said.
He said Fiji should be allowed to host a tournament on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
“I would love a tournament in Fiji, I really want that. I have done a bit of promotion and gave in a bit of word for the bid.
“Having it in Fiji will be fantastic. Many years ago we used to have it in Suva and they were awesome times. I’d love to have that back because I love the people of Fiji and I love their sport. I love competing against them.”
He said he had been working hard to bring Samoa to the top of 7s rugby again.
“I am trying to put some measures to make Samoa better and to play around high performance matches.
“They are a lot fitter now. It took them a while to understand the game I want them to play and to understand the coach and for me to understand them as well.”
He said he was already planning for the Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast in Australia in April.
“We have Australia and England (in our pool) and they are tough ones. We will go out there and see what it is.”