Gareth Baber

Offer on table for Welsh Olympic mastermind

However, Fiji Union chief executive officer John O’Connor said that while the board had endorsed the Welshman’s contract to be extended the final decision would be Baber’s.

“The FRU board has endorsed an extension of Gareth’s contract to continue as the head coach for the men’s 7s team to the next Olympics,” O’Connor told FijiTimes.

Fiji 7s coach undecided on future following gold medal win

The Welshman guided Fiji to it's second Olympic gold medal in Tokyo on Wednesday, defending the title they won in Rio.

He took charge of the team at the start of 2017 and has led Fiji to one World Series title, a Commonwealth Games silver medal and now Olympic gold.

Baber's contract is up at the end of year but he said nothing had been decided yet.

"I've had my contract extended until the end of December so I am still under contract at Fiji Rugby at the moment...I'll take some time and have a think as well", he said.

Gareth Baber on the pressure and privilege of coaching Fiji

Llanelli, south Wales. A small town backing on to green hills and a history of heavy industry.

Fiji, South Pacific. An tropical archipelago of palms, white sand and a slower way of life.

Half the globe away, and a world of difference.

But Baber, the Welshman who arrived as Fiji's sevens coach in January 2017, does not feel as far from home as all that.

"I spent a lot of time in Llanelli as a kid, in the pubs, playing pool, knocking about in the lanes outside," he told BBC Sport.

Fiji 7s coach extends contract until Tokyo Olympics

The Welshman's original four-year deal was scheduled to end in December but, with the 2020 Olympics delayed by 12 months because of Covid-19, the FRU has extended his deal until the end of the global sporting showpiece in August next year, where Fiji will defend their gold medal from four years ago.

While the 2019/20 World Sevens Series was brought to a premature end last week, Gareth Baber intends to keep his players busy with provincial and local sevens competitions.

"We've put some plans in place based around what is happening here domestically in Fiji," he said.

Baber's future with Fiji Sevens team uncertain

Last month Fiji Rugby announced they were cutting costs to manage the financial fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure its long term sustainability.

Baber's four-year contract is due to end in January.

Fiji Sports Commission Chairman Peter Mazey told FBC news that a contract extension is dependent on funding from the government.

Meanwhile, if given the green light, the Fiji Rugby Union has marked 11 July as the proposed date for local rugby competitions to kick-off.

Fiji and the contractual dilemmas caused by the postponed Tokyo Games

Last week’s announcement that the Olympics have been delayed a year has caused the sevens coach an unexpected headache, and the problem extends to his squad as a number of players had planned to take up lucrative deals in 15s rugby – most notably in America’s enlarged Major League Rugby – after the Olympic Games.

The lure of Olympic gold will now force these players to look again at those club contracts and decide if they want to remain part of the Fijian sevens squad as it attempts to repeat the glory it won at the 2016 Games in Rio. 

Fiji preparation for Hamilton 7s underway in Navua

The January tournament leaves little room for error with teams advancing directly from pool play to the semi-finals instead of the traditional quarterfinals.

Fiji have had a disappointing season so far finishing sixth in Cape Town, which leaves them languishing in 8th place overall in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings.

But coach Gareth Baber is working on returning them to the form that saw them crowned champions in 2019 when they take on Argentina, Australia and Samoa in pool play in Hamilton.

Baber: Talks ongoing with European clubs as gold medal pressure mounts

 

Fiji’s 2016 Olympic Games gold was turned into a book by former head coach Ben Ryan and became an acclaimed film, Sevens from Heaven charting the amazing achievement by some of the World’s most talented, yet underfunded rugby union players, who seamlessly moved from village matches to an Olympic Games final in Brazil.

'It is not something to be proud of and it's an area that we are constantly working on'

Ahead of the opening leg of the new season series, which kicks off in Dubai on December 5, the Fijian boss revealed he wants to see better decision making from his players and limit the number of times they operate one man down during matches due to yellow or red card offences.

So frequently were they sanctioned that they ended the campaign tied with Tonga for the receipt of most cards during the series.

Debut season a learning curve for Fiji 7s coach

The Olympic champions relinquished their World Series crown, finishing third behind runaway leaders South Africa and England.

Baber missed the opening two legs of the campaign, after completing his contract with the Hong Kong Rugby Union, before linking up with the team in time for the final round of the Wellington Sevens in January.

The Welshman led Fiji to three finals and one Cup title in his first five events but they failed to make it past the quarter finals in the final rounds.