Sri Lanka Rugby(SLR) are in pursuit of finding a suitable candidate for the job of national sevens coach with the all-important international sevens tournaments coming up in September and October.
Following Sri Lanka’s 5th place finish in the Asia Sevens Series and after the Tuskers failed to earn a medal at the Asian Games last year, the services of New Zealand national Peter Woods were discontinued along with trainer Nicolas Groube.
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Since then there has been no interest shown by the national body to recruit any individual with focus drifting to the fifteens format.
“Regarding the coach for the national side for the Asia Sevens, we have spoken to a couple of coaches and they are well engaged (in their commitments) but we have spoken to Matt Lee who has handled our fifteen-a-side team.
His profile is not very good but he has understood and turned around making this 15-a-side we had with 17 new freshers to win a big game in an overseas country” added deputy president of the SLR Rizly Ilyas commenting on the new sevens coach.
The national body had contacted sevens veteran and coach Ben Gollings but with his commitment in Singapore, it makes it impossible for him to act in a full-time capacity. The former British sevens sensation was a one-time coach for Sri Lanka during the 2012-13 season during which Sri Lanka finished 3rd in Asia.
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Meanwhile, former Wellington Rugby Union coach Matt Lee who was in charge of the national fifteens side under the leadership of Omalka Gunarathane, is leading the race for the job. According to Ilyas, he has understood the conditions and the players and should be one of the frontline candidates.
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Under Lee, Sri Lanka lost to Philippines 39-22 and later won convincingly against Chinese Taipei 72-17.
The sevens season last year ended in an anti-climax with the Tuskers failing to make a third-place finish in the home leg against the Philippines, losing the third place play-off 19-7, pushing the Tuskers to 4th in Asia.
With no sevens action or any game practice for over 8 months, Sri Lanka Rugby should be looking at making their recruitments soon.