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The recent move to Samoa of Sir Gordon Tietjens, who, for twenty-two years, guided the All Blacks sevens program to international success, has generated controversy in both countries.
The outspoken Tietjens spoke of his frustration at the perceived lack of support by the New Zealand RFU in the past 18-months of his tenure. Yet, for the rugby community, the New Zealand's team disappointing fifth place finish in last August's Rio Olympics was the main reason for his disfavor.
Tietjens will not take over the Samoan side until January of 2017, meaning the team will play in Dubai and Capetown without him this December. Samoa suffered a reversal of sevens fortunes these past few years, dropping significantly down in the standings and not approximating the competitive success of prior years. They did not qualify for the Olympics, failing to advance in the final repechage held in Monaco.
Last season, the Samoans won the first-year of the Paris event in a thrilling, come from behind miracle against rival Fiji in the finals. Aside from this sole circuit victory, they played mediocre rugby.
A former Samoan international, Eliota Fulmaono-Sapolu, criticized the appointment, stating that Tietjens did not speak a word of Samoan and would have a difficult time communicating with the team. But the island nation's Prime Minister disagreed, stating, "It's a great coup for Samoa rugby."
The front-runner to replace Tietjens in New Zealand is Scotsman Clark Laidlaw.