Fiji's Kitione Taliga runs with the ball to avoid South Africa's Seabelo Senatla during the final of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai.
Fiji's Kitione Taliga runs with the ball to avoid South Africa's Seabelo Senatla during the final of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai. Martin Dokoupil

Ex-Fiji sevens coach in stoush with old employer

RUGBY SEVENS: One of the year's most beautiful friendships has suddenly turned nasty.

Ben Ryan received a hero's welcome when he returned to Fiji in August after guiding the country to its first ever Olympic gold medal.

The men's sevens coach was subsequently awarded the country's highest honour, being made a Companion of the Order of Fiji by its president Jioji Konrote.

But it didn't stop there. The England-born 44-year-old was also given three acres of land by the people of Serua province, and bestowed with the Fijian name Ratu Peni Raiyani Latianara, an honorary chief title.

But, having relinquished the role after Rio, Ryan was simply an interested onlooker as his old side kicked off the defence of its World Rugby Sevens Series, which it has won the past two years under Ryan.

However, a tweet criticising his employer of three years, Fijian Rugby Union, for not contracting players has set off a war of words.

"A fantastic effort by Fiji at @CapeTown7s @WorldRugby7sseries. FRU - please start paying these amazing men. No one contracted again,” he tweeted from London.

The FRU responded with a statement, saying it had respected and accepted Ryan's decision to head back to England "but it seems it is difficult for him to move on”.

It voiced its frustration at the former coach's "constant remarks ... and his ongoing tweets about the performance of the team”.

Ryan ultimately hit back by tweeting: "What a ridiculously childish statement. I've only said positive things about everyone and one tweet that tells the truth hits a chord.

"Ps @fijirugby If you want me to step back perhaps you should extend the gesture and remove my photo from your top banner on your website!”


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