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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

Fiji coach Ben Ryan one of a few involved with rugby union for love of the game

Rugby should applaud the likes of Ben Ryan, who is currently working for free in Fiji, writes Paul Radley.
Ben Ryan, who desires to lead Fiji to Olympic gold in 2016, is paying his own way. Christopher Pike / The National
Ben Ryan, who desires to lead Fiji to Olympic gold in 2016, is paying his own way. Christopher Pike / The National

When the captain of Australia quits Test rugby altogether in favour of a better pay deal elsewhere, it is safe to assume the professional game has become entirely mercenary now.

Ben Mowen may have cited other valid reasons, such as family, for his decision to skip Australia for France this week, thus sacrificing his international career.

And anyway, it is not he who mandates that overseas-based players will not be picked for the Wallabies national team.

Mowen is not the only one, either. Toby Flood seems certain to end his England career by taking up an offer to play in the lucrative French league instead.

Dig a little deeper, though, and there are those who still regard the game as a ticket to adventure, rather than fortune. Ben Ryan coached Fiji to Dubai Sevens glory in November, his third such title, having twice won it previously while in charge of his native England.

It turns out Ryan has been doing it from the goodness of his heart.

He has yet to see any of the salary he agreed to when taking up the post. The Fiji union is still waiting on a grant from its national sports commission to pay its new coach. It has not been forthcoming, so Ryan, who has designs on leading the island nation to Olympic gold in 2016, is paying his own way.

“We as a nation should applaud a foreign individual who is willing to make personal sacrifices for the love of rugby in Fiji,” said Berlin Kafoa, the acting chief executive of Fiji rugby.

So should the sport itself.

pradley@thenational.ae