Legendary sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens has stepped down from his role as head coach of the Samoa sevens side after little more than three years in the job.
The 64-year-old took over the position at the end of 2016 after his glittering 22-year stint with the All Blacks Sevens came to a disappointing end with a fifth-placed finish at the Rio Olympics four years ago.
In a statement released by the Samoa Rugby Union, Tietjens said the uncertainty surrounding the international sevens circuit due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means he won’t seek a contract renewal.
World Rugby has suspended the remaining tournament on the 2019-20 World Sevens Series as international borders closed and tight travel restrictions were put in place because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Tokyo Olympics, which were initially set to be held between July and August this year, have also been postponed until 2021, contributing to Tietjens’ decision to depart the Samoan set-up.
“With so much uncertainty … the best solution moving forward would be to step down and allow Samoa Rugby to plan for the future,” Tietjens said.
“With the cancellation of the Olympics and four tournaments more than likely to be cancelled from the 2019/2020 series the timing I felt was right to step down so they could look for a new head coach.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching the Manu Samoa 7’s team and I thank the Samoa Rugby Union for giving me this opportunity as it’s been an absolute honour and privilege to have been involved over the last 3 years.”
Prior to his spell with Samoa, Tietjens enjoyed a trophy-laden tenure at the helm of the New Zealand side, guiding the Kiwis to 12 World Series titles, four Commonwealth Games gold medals and two Sevens World Cup crowns.
His unprecedented success was acknowledged in 2012 when he was inducted into World Rugby’s Hall of Fame.
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