10 Jan 2017

Sport: History-making coach left out of Fiji Rugby awards

4:41 pm on 10 January 2017

Fiji's Olympic and World Series winning sevens coach Ben Ryan has not been nominated as coach of the year at this month's inaugural Fiji Rugby Awards.

Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan

Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ryan guided the men's sevens side to consecutive World Series titles before helping them win the country's first-ever Olympic medal by taking gold at the Rio games last year.

The Englishman received a hero's welcome back in Fiji, being awarded the Companion of the Order of Fiji, the highest honour in the country, as well as being given three acres of land and a chiefly title in Serua province where he had been living.

This month the Fiji Times named Ben Ryan 2016 person of the year saying his selection was largely based on his achievement coaching the national sevens team to win two series titles and for being the mastermind behind Fiji's gold medal win at the Rio Games.

Gold medallists Fiji celebrate during the men’s rugby sevens medal ceremony during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro onAugust 11, 2016.

Fiji's gold medal winning sevens team in Rio Photo: AFP/Pascal Guyot

Ryan's achievements were also celebrated globally, garnering a nomination at the World Rugby awards as coach of the year where he lost out to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

Fiji's sevens team and captain Osea Kolinisau also missed out on World Rugby awards despite being nominated.

The snubs prompted a statement from the Fiji Rugby Union saying while they respected the achievements of the All Blacks during 2016 they strongly believe the impact of Fiji winning back to back World Sevens Series titles and the Olympic gold medal in Rio had a far greater impact on the game of rugby globally.

Ryan resigned to follow other interests but in December relations between the FRU and the coach soured after an online spat over player payments erupted.

Local club coaches Max Hughes, Akuila Nasi and Esala Nauga are now the finalists for FRU coach of the year.

Ryan's sevens side is nominated for 'Best Team', with the inaugural awards taking place on 14 January.

Fiji Rugby Union could not be reached for comment.

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