Dublin , Ireland - 11 February 2022; Edinburgh assistant coach Gareth Baber before the United Rugby Championship match between Leinster and Edinburgh at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

After organizing the Fiji men’s sevens gold medal defense at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.Gareth Baber answers SOS: 'I just want Fiji to be successful'

Gareth Baber is well-versed in managing the enormous expectations of a country. In just eighteen weeks, Baber will have to help Fiji win a third straight title in Paris. He had to match Ben Ryan’s men’s gold medal achievement in Rio.

Baber, who flies to Fiji from Heathrow today, will arrive in Nadi on Monday and has been asked to use his vast sevens knowledge to support new head coach Kolinisau Osea, the former Fiji 7s captain and Olympic gold medallist from Rio, who replaced England’s Ben Golling, sacked after failing to win a leg of the HSBC SVNS during his time in charge.

The Welshman, who will work with the players and coaches,  will undertake the role in two-week blocks as his family are now based back in Cardiff and accepts his arrival will raise expectations for both the men’s and women’s seven squads. He told RugbyPass: “I know that as Fiji if you don’t win every tournament then you have lost – that’s the kind of narrative and the psyche of the nation which creates a standard and expectation. The Fiji men’s squad is capable of winning gold in Paris and they could probably still do it without a coach because they have that much talent.fiji sevens baber“This is not about sprinkling fairy dust, it is about understanding the hard, tangible elements you need to put together to be able to get those levels of performance to realise potential when it matters and in 18 weeks that is my challenge. I just want Fiji to be successful.

“Osea won a gold medal as a player and he has an understanding of what is required having gone through a tough evolution with Ben (Ryan). Osea is a strong character and growing as a coach and I have been through that process myself with Fiji and I believe that will help the men’s and women’s programmes working with Saiasi Fuli. We don’t have four years to the Games and so it is distilling down what the teams need.

“I have had mentors throughout my career. As a head coach, there are some things you just don’t know until someone sheds light on them. Sometimes, these things are small but effective in fostering the kind of environment that allows players to perform at the levels the team needs to.” I’ll be trying to accomplish that with the players, coaches, management, and other stakeholders. In the end, I have a limited amount of time left, so we must find performances somewhere. To make those improvements, we will need to work extremely hard and strategically.


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