Volunteering is still at the heart of Rugby
9 January 2014
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We have often spoken of volunteers being the lifeblood of rugby; without them the game could not exist. This applies to not just the community game but also the Premiership and Championship clubs who rely on an army of volunteers every match day.
However when it comes to International Rugby we all acknowledge that players, coaches, physios and back room staff need to earn a living and when it comes to the top teams they want the best available people and that comes at a price.
Ben Ryan spent seven years in charge of England Sevens and is regarded as one of the best Sevens coaches in the world, so when he stepped down in 2013 in was no surprise when Fiji Rugby offered him the post of Sevens coach. Fiji is synonymous with Sevens Rugby and their international squad has consistently been one of the top three in the world and under Ben’s leadership they won the Dubai Sevens in November.
Ben has committed himself fully to the role and to the country, taking the decision to move to Fiji with his wife rather than try to fly back and forth to England at regular intervals. Of course, who wouldn’t want to live in what seems to us a South Sea paradise for a number of years even if there has been the occasional military coup?
Fiji isn’t a wealthy country but I certainly thought that Ben would be getting a decent pay deal, so I was amazed to read that he has agreed to work on a volunteer basis for the first three months. You can read the news story by clicking this link but briefly Fiji Rugby is waiting to hear the outcome of a grant application made to the Fiji Sports Commission, but until then Ben is happy to work for nothing.
Surely we can all learn something from the fantastic gesture. Recruiting new volunteers is one of the hardest things to do in Rugby and some point to professionalism as one of the reasons volunteers are more reluctant to come forward. Ben Ryan’s willingness to put the game first is an example we should all admire and follow.