Ben Ryan the Adopted King of Fiji:
Ben Ryan, a “Ginger Bloke with Glasses” from Wimbledon is now the centre of attention in Fiji after guiding their sevens team to their first Olympic medal ever.
Where did it all start for Ryan?
After graduating from Loughborough University with a Sports Science degree Ryan started his coaching career at St Edward’s School, Oxford where he spent 6 years crafting the youth teams into sevens champions with an 82% win record. When Ryan left he had pupils representing England at every level, before Ryan was part of the school they had no international representation. Ryan joined up with Newbury Blues as backs coach and guided them to promotion for Nation 2 to National 1 (two leagues below the premiership) and was later named as Director of Rugby for Newbury. This consistent success caught the eyes of England Coaching selectors and Ryan was chosen to assist in the England Counties tour to Argentina and Uruguay, he was then promoted to head coach 2 years later as they toured Tunisia, Ireland and France. With this sterling record and very logical progression a job opened up as head coach for England Sevens and there seemed to be only one choice. Ben Ryan for England Sevens.
Coaching England and Success with the Rose.
Ryan’s Record with England speaks for itself, in total he managed over 300 games in the IRB World Sevens series reaching the semi final or better on 28 occasions. He also coached England in the 2009 RWC and 2010 Commonwealth Games. Ryan was able to get a victory in the Junior Commonwealth with England beating SA in the final. When Ryan decided to move on, England were ranked third in the world and European Champions.
Early Days with Fiji
After signing in 2013 Benny Ryany (Island Name) has had some mountains to overcome. He was not paid for the first 4 months of his stay because as Ryan says “ Fiji Rugby were going through one of the worst financial periods they had ever seen”. Ryan admitted “ “When I came in I was a bit of a novelty, I was a new story. They’d seen me coaching England and I think there was a reticence in some quarters and also some optimism — and generally in Fiji optimism wins the day because they’re very happy and optimistic,” he says. Natural disasters such as the second biggest cyclone wiped away players’ houses, they had death within the playing group… Ryan’s job.. to steady the ship. This wasn’t done with an iron fist, but with a subtle method of taking stock and seeing where he can add value to the highly talented playing group. Ryan obviously has a unique outlook on sevens and the 2 World Titles Fiji secured back to back in 14/15 and 15/16 are testament to hard work and champagne skill. The gold medal at Rio was the only thing left and guess what, Ryan’s Fiji delivered with ease.
Ben Ryan for King and Hollywood.
He has done everything, won everything and given a small Island Nation an Olympic gold. He get’s mobbed when he drives anywhere and cannot get a quiet beer in Fiji without being asked for photo’s or a signature. There was rumour when Ed Sheeran visited Fiji, people thought it was Ryan.. upon finding it out it was Ed Sheeran they were extremely disappointed it wasn’t their beloved 7’s coach. Whether he becomes the face of a silver screen epic is yet to be decided, like the future of Ben Ryan in Fiji. What else can he offer the island?