Rugby: Fiji the Favorite as Rugby Returns to Olympics

The program was already operating on a shoestring budget before the Fiji Rugby Union went into a financial crisis in 2014, when World Rugby, the sport’s world governing body, temporarily suspended funding after the union failed to make changes to its governance and finances.

Then in February this year, Fiji was hit by a devastating cyclone that left 44 dead and tens of thousands homeless.

As Ryan told CNN’s World Rugby show, “It’s been everything from the second-biggest cyclone to hit land mass and boys having their houses wiped out; we’ve had death within the playing group; we’ve had all sorts of things going on.”

Ryan — with his distinctive red hair and black glasses — is already a cult hero in Fiji, as are his players. Should they win gold in Rio, celebrations are likely to go on for days, and the players can expect to be given land and in some cases ministerial positions in the government.


Fiji has won the World Sevens Series the last two years under Coach Ben Ryan.

Rex Features, via Associated Press

Another rugby-obsessed country however, will…

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