Rugby-Baber turns down contract extension as Fiji Sevens coach

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Welsh coach Gareth Baber, who led Fiji to the defence of their Olympic rugby Sevens title in Tokyo, has rejected an offer to stay on until the 2024 Paris Games and will instead take up a job in Scotland.

Baber capped a successful five years as Fiji's Sevens coach with the gold medal triumph in July but has accepted a role as an assistant coach under Mike Blair at Edinburgh Rugby.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform Fiji Rugby and the people of Fiji that I will not be accepting the contract offer to coach the Fijian Sevens team to the next Olympic Games," Baber said in Fiji Rugby statement.

"I have a burning ambition to challenge my coaching again in the 15s environment and know that I must immerse myself in this if I'm truly to be measured and to progress in my coaching career."

Under Baber, a former Wales under-20 coach, Fiji also won 12 rounds of the elite World Rugby Sevens Series and clinched the title in 2018-19.

Chief executive John O'Connor said Fiji Rugby had agreed to allow Baber an early release from his contract at the end of November and would advertise the position.

"We totally respect the decision made by Gareth and thank him for his service to Fiji Rugby and to Fiji," he said.

"We are all proud of Gareth's achievements culminating in the gold medal defense at the Tokyo Olympics 2020."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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