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Fiji sack head coach four months before Olympics

NEWS: Ben Gollings has been sacked as head coach of the Fijian men’s sevens team, the Fiji Rugby Union said Friday, four months before the side bids for a third straight Olympic gold in Paris.

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Former England sevens international Gollings, 43, has been replaced by former Fiji sevens captain Osea Kolinisau, board chairman Peter Mazey told reporters in Suva.

Kolinisau, 38, takes the reins as head coach having won Olympic gold as a player with Fiji at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Mazey said Fiji rugby bosses parted ways with Gollings “due to his inability to meet the desired standards and expectations set forth by the organisation and within his contract”.

“In the pursuit of Olympic glory in France, we have to have the best,” Mazey said, with the Paris Games starting on July 26.

Gollings, appointed Fiji coach in December 2021, was axed with the team still waiting for a tournament win on the World Sevens Series circuit after five rounds this season.

“We have done a thorough assessment of the performances and it has become obvious and necessary to make strategic adjustments,” Mazey said.

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Gollings’ dedication and efforts had been “commendable”, Mazey said, “but we must prioritise our ultimate goal of securing medals” at the Olympics. A “fresh perspective and expertise” was needed, he added.

A star of Fijian sevens, Kolinisau captained the team at the 2016 Olympics and to back-to-back World Sevens Series titles in 2015 and 2016.

Fiji has long excelled at the abbreviated form of the game with slick handling, speed, crunching tackles and a desire to run the ball from anywhere – often ending with outrageous tries.

They won the men’s Olympic title in 2016 by demolishing Great Britain 43-7 in the final, then again in Tokyo in 2021 by beating New Zealand 27-12 in the gold-medal match.

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Fiji has also won the men’s World Cup Sevens title four times, most recently in 2022 in South Africa.

They reached the quarterfinals of the 15-a-side World Cup last year.

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