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Edinburgh appoint Olympic gold winning coach Gareth Baber

By Sam Smith
Fiji Sevens coach Gareth Baber.

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Edinburgh Rugby have confirmed the appointment of 2020 Olympic Gold winning Fiji Sevens Head Coach Gareth Baber as the club’s new skills and assistant attack coach, just hours after it was officially confirmed that he would be leaving the Fiji Sevens programme.

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Baber who quit Fiji despite a four years offer on the table, will join up with Edinburgh’s coaching group this December, having exited his existing contract with the Fijian Rugby Union early. Baber had said that while he was leaving Fiji with a ‘heavy heart’, he wished to pursue a career in 15s.

“I am very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities which come with my new coaching role with Edinburgh. I am extremely grateful to Mike [Blair] and the Edinburgh backroom team for the faith they have shown in my recruitment and I’m determined to repay this,” said Baber. “The prospect of joining an innovative and knowledgeable coaching staff at a top European team, which has in its ranks some of the best rugby talent in world rugby, excites me enormously. I look forward to adding value to the group, utilising my own rugby knowledge and coaching experiences.

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“Having played and coached against Edinburgh during my career, I am aware of what the team represents and the depth of passion felt in the city for the success of the team.

“It is a great opportunity to challenge myself in an established professional environment, where I recognise that I will need to be at the top of my coaching abilities.

“I look forward to establishing new relationships and will work tirelessly to honour the opportunity which has been presented to me.”

Having studied at both Swansea University and Oxford University, Baber – who played scrum-half and wing represented Cardiff RFC, Pontypridd RFC, Aberavon RFC, Bristol and Dragons, before switching his focus to coaching in 2007.

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After being appointed as Wales U20 Assistant Coach, Baber progressed to academy skills coach at Cardiff Blues before being named Head Coach of the Welsh capital club – alongside Justin Burnell – in 2011. Baber left Cardiff in 2013 and was appointed Head of Hong Kong Rugby Sevens where he directed the senior men’s, women’s and youth programmes at elite level until 2016.

He signed a four-year deal to become Fiji Sevens Head Coach in 2016 and quickly established himself as a highly respected and knowledgeable coach on the World Rugby Sevens circuit.

The Welshman would go on to claim 11 tournament victories with Fiji – beating the previous record of nine set by Ben Ryan – and guided Fiji Sevens to the 2018/19 World Rugby Sevens Series title.

Baber capped off an illustrious five-year period with the South Pacific Islanders by leading Fiji to gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with Fiji Sevens claiming a 27-12 victory over New Zealand at Tokyo Stadium in July 2021.

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Head Coach Mike Blair, added: “I’m really looking forward to working with Gareth. He’ll be a welcome addition to our coaching group.

“Gareth’s reputation for being a forward-thinking and dynamic coach will be hugely important as we look to continually develop our attacking philosophy in the seasons to come.

“I’ve got no doubt Gareth will hit the ground running once he links up with our group in December and our squad will benefit massively from his coaching and expertise.”

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