Tietjens takes time off to reflect journey

Sir Gordon Tietjens at the Rugby Sevens competition at the Marist St Joseph grounds in Samoa on Friday, July 12, 2019. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

WITH the love and passion for 7s rugby injected into his veins for the past two and half decades, former Samoa and New Zealand head coach Sir Gordon Tietjens has called it time out from coaching duties to set his plans before he makes a decision on his next move.

Tietjens has proved to be the longest serving coach in the World Rugby Sevens Series for 26 years and he stepped down as the Samoa 7s coach last week to relook and refocus his goals and his coaching career.

He spoke to this newspaper yesterday, “To coach another team is not my priority at the moment and I will make that decision in four to six weeks time because at the moment with the COVID-19 crisis we are facing, we don’t know whether the remaining four tournaments will continue or not.

“My contract with Samoa will end on August 31, and the remaining tournaments were pushed further so I thought of taking time out and sit back, reflect on my coaching duties and even find time for resource coaching opportunities.

“I needed to take a break and spend time with my family, play tennis and reflect back on the years I’ve spent coaching and how I can improve and be a better mentor on and off the field, but that decision will be made in another four to six weeks,” said Tietjens.

The most decorated coach in the World Rugby Sevens Series has had some good and bad days in his career, but he has come to a point to understand what his next step would be.

“I now know where I’m at and I have a lot to work through and this Covid-19 is a pandemic with nothing much that could be done with no vaccine at the moment so we don’t know whether the remaining four tournaments will be held or not and even if there’s still no vaccine next year, the Olympics could be on hold as well,” he said.

Meanwhile Tietjens has stepped down as Samoa Sevens coach after three years.

The 64-year-old said the uncertainty created by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and the 2019-20 sevens series events meant it was the right time for him to step down.

Tietjens is considered a game changer in the world of sevens, steering New Zealand to six straight World Series titles between 2000 and 2005 and also collecting a host of Commonwealth Games medals in a, 23-year tenure. “With so much uncertainty as to when the Sevens World Series would continue, the best solution moving forward would be to step down to allow Samoa Rugby to plan for the future.

“With the cancellation of the Olympics and four tournaments more than likely to be cancelled from the 2019/2020 series, the timing I felt was right to step down so they could look for a new head coach.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching the Manu Samoa Sevens team and I thank the Samoa Rugby Union for giving me this opportunity, as it’s been an absolute honour and privilege to have been involved over the last three years.

“The decision for the next four tournaments will be confirmed in the next four weeks whether it will be cancelled or scheduled for another date,” he said.

The Tokyo Olympics is set to go ahead in July next year while the fate of the World Series is unclear with its staging dependent on international travel restrictions.

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