It’s a coup alright!

This much is undeniable. A lot can happen within a week. 

In the case of the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U), they have gone from villains to heroes within the space of seven days. 

After the Union was vilified for their treatment of sacked former coach, Damian McGrath, their work to secure Sir Gordon Tietjens as the national Sevens coach is nothing but a masterstroke. (See story)

You see, after the speculations, denials and the suspense, when the appointment was finally announced yesterday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi could afford to smile. He’s done it again. He knows no one would argue with the appointment of such a coach.

And he couldn’t have worded it better when he said the deal is a great coup for Samoa. Indeed, it is a coup in every meaning of the word. 

For the Samoa Rugby Union to snare the services of someone with the caliber of Tietjens, it would require a certain degree of negotiating ability and persuasiveness, especially when other countries with more resources were only too willing to snap him up.

And yet poorly resourced Samoa with a miserable history of administration and an equally sad record of inconsistent performances on the field has managed to do the impossible. 

What has really attracted Tietjens to Samoa would be wonderful to find out. Surely it cannot be the money. The Samoa Rugby Union for all we know does not have a lot to offer. Structure wise on and off the field, there is a lot of work to be done. 

What we do know from what we have seen so far is that the man is genuinely interested in developing Samoan rugby.

“It’s a real pleasure and a real honour to be involved with your country,” he said. “I’ve had a passion for many years because I have coached many Samoans over the years who have been involved in the New Zealand team that I have coached.

“It’s a really exciting time for me being my 23rd year coaching sevens rugby at the international level; 22 with New Zealand and really much looking forward to my first year with Samoa.”

Despite not winning the Rio gold medal, Tietjens obviously feels he has a lot to offer.

“I have a lot of experience and at the same time I would like to think that with my position as the head coach, I can also provide a pathway for aspiring coaches in a succession plan they can learn from myself and learn from the experience in moving forward.

“I also believe that Samoa has a huge amount of potential to start with. I suppose progressing in the world series using the world series for 2016/2017 to start regrouping and starting to pull together and produce consistent performances.

“Of course 2017 is the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast which certainly Samoa will be strong to win a Gold medal.

“And then we have the Rugby World Cup Sevens which is going to be in U.S.A. and of course what we all want to see also and we have seen it with all our other neighbours, is Samoa going to the Olympics in 2020, Japan.

“So my goal certainly as the coach is to get Samoa where they need to be at the top of that tree in Sevens Rugby.”

We don’t for one second doubt the sincerity of this man. He is a wonderful human being whose desire to succeed is unmatched.

Besides, the man’s coaching ability is absolutely unquestionable. Unlike some one hit wonder coaches who win one or two tournaments and disappear forever, Tietjens is in a class of his own. 

He is arguably the greatest coach in the world – when you consider his winning record as well as the ability to generate star players over the years. The coaching guru has won everything there is to be won in Sevens circles – except for that Olympic title.  

Come to think of it, maybe, just maybe that is the reason he’s opted for Samoa. Having failed in his ultimate quest to win the Rio gold with New Zealand, perhaps Tietjen’s instincts tell him that Samoa can do the impossible in Japan in four years time.

We can never write him off. We believe that if he is given the proper support and freedom to do his job, it’s a goal worth getting excited about. 

The only question is, is the Samoa Rugby Union willing to change its ways to provide the structure and cater for the demands from a champion coach who would no doubt expect nothing but professionalism and performance from his players and the administrators too? 

What do you think?

On that note, we’d like to welcome Sir Gordon Tietjens to Samoa and wish him and his new Management team all the best. Let’s hope the Union will give them enough time to achieve the goals we all want them to achieve.  

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