x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Why Gordon Tietjens and Sir Alex Ferguson have plenty in common

Rugby coach, inducted into rugby's Hall of Fame, has had sustained success for a long time and overcome several challengers - just like the Manchester United manager has.

As coach Gordon Tietjens, centre, has won 10 world series titles and gold at four Commonwealth Games. Sandra Mu / Getty Images
As coach Gordon Tietjens, centre, has won 10 world series titles and gold at four Commonwealth Games. Sandra Mu / Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson did have a point. Roberto Mancini may be a few titles down the road to it already, but can only start to crow once he has collected the sort of haul the Manchester United manager has.

Longevity makes legends, so was fitting Gordon Tietjens became the first active coach to be inducted into the International Rugby Board's Hall of Fame this week.

Lots of sports - XVs rugby, for one - crave the sort of genuine geographical spread of interest, as well as the standard of competition, that sevens has.

Yet a monopoly on the major prizes still exists. New Zealand's success is a testament to the iron will of Tietjens, the coach who has now won 10 world series titles, as well as gold at four Commonwealth Games.

The way he has done it has been Ferguson-esque. Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Arsenal and now Manchester City have all tried to topple the Old Trafford overlord. They managed it only sporadically, and he is still in harness.

In sevens, Paul Treu, Stephen Betham, Ben Ryan and a host of Fijians have all enjoyed success against Tietjens, but it has been fleeting at best.

The methods are similar, too. A keen eye for a young talent, allied to an iron fist in a granite glove.

Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and, lately, Israel Dagg all triumphed because of the Tietjens treatment, which is sustained by training methods the players refer to as "death". In fact, Ferguson is a pussy cat in comparison.

pradley@thenational.ae

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