Ryan's magic touch as coach lifts 3rd Dubai title in 4 years
Ben Ryan worked his Dubai Sevens magic once again, leading Fiji to their long-awaited first title thanks to a 29-17 win against South Africa on Saturday night.
The Englishman won his third Dubai title in four years, guiding a devastating Fiji team that gave the tournament its defining game when they beat New Zealand 44-0 in the semi-finals to inflict a record sevens defeat on the All Blacks.
It has been a long wait for Fiji to lift the trophy in Dubai, with them runners-up on five occasions. And Ryan, who coached England to glory in the UAE in 2010 and 2011, hopes this win is just the start of a glittering new era for the Islanders.
“I have had some great wins, my first win in Dubai was incredibly memorable and that is ranked right up there along with my win in Wellington,” said the 42-year-old. “In this new chapter with Fiji, I hope this a starting point.
“It’s very important for me to keep feet on the ground back in Fiji because they will be going mental in Suva.
“This is the start, we are going to have downs as well as ups because our programme is just starting. But you see what happens when you have a group of Fijians that are committed and unified, you get some spectacular the results.”
Ryan’s team emerged as the clear and deserved winners yesterday as they swept all before them in the knockout stages.
A gritty Scotland were beaten 26-14 in the quarter-finals before an astonishing display against the All Blacks in the semi-final. And Ryan thinks the Dubai Sevens is perfectly suited to both him and the team.
“I love coming to Dubai,” he said. “It’s a fast pitch which I think suits the style I like to play. It doesn’t take much persuasion to ask Fiji to throw the ball around. It’s good.”