Coral Coast 7s to induct Norton, ‘Titch’

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Legendary 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens,. Picture: FILE

Legendary 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens will make history in January as he becomes the first coach to be inducted into the “Walk of Fame” at the McDonald’s Fiji’s Coral Coast 7s in Fiji’s ‘Rugby Town’ of Sigatoka.

Joining him as an ambassador for the 2024 version of the renowned international tournament is former England 7s superstar Dan Norton, a statement from event organisers read.

Recognised as the most successful 7s coach in history, ‘Titch’ has left an indelible mark on the sport with no fewer than 12 HSBC World Rugby 7s Series titles, two Rugby World Cup 7s gold medals, and four Commonwealth Games golds.

Meanwhile, recently retired English wing Norton bids farewell to his illustrious career as the leading try scorer on the 7s series, having amassed a remarkable 358 tries.

His extraordinary talent, speed, and agility made him a force on the rugby field, captivating fans around the globe.

The Gloucester-born flyer’s achievements have cemented his legacy as of one the all-time greats in the sport.

The highly anticipated Coral Coast 7s will take place from January 18-20 at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka.

“I have made so many rugby visits to Fiji,” Titch said, “dating back to the 1990s when I’d bring over the New Zealand side for the old Fiji International 7s in Suva.

“I have always loved my time in the ‘land of 7s’ and feel very honoured to be the 15th inductee and first coach in the Rugby Town Walk of Fame.”

“To also be the ambassador for Coral Coast 7s is very humbling, and I look forward to sharing all these tributes in Fiji in January.”

When asked how he feels to be joining Sir Gordon in Fiji, Norton said he was excited to be part of the tournament, and could not wait to visit Fiji for the first time.

“I’m excited to be selected as the 2024 tournament ambassador for the Coral Coast 7s and can’t wait to visit Fiji for the first time.”

He continued “Fiji is synonymous with rugby 7s, and it’s been an honour playing against the different teams and players for so many years and sharing some great battles.

“Everywhere we went we were met with love and support from the fans. “I can’t wait to discover what makes the people so special and their passion for rugby 7s so intense.

“I am honoured to be joining the Rugby Town Walk of Fame, having my plaque unveiled alongside some absolute legends of the game like Serevi, Gollings, Lomu, Campese, and Habana is very humbling indeed.”

Tournament director Jay Whyte shared his thoughts on the importance of tournament ambassadors, stating: “tournament ambassadors help play a vital role in promoting the event locally and globally, helping to elevate the Coral Coast 7s.

“We also view this inclusion as a way of thanking our ambassadors for their service to the game of rugby throughout their careers. This is a small way of simply saying vina valevu djina”

“Dan Norton and Sir Gordon Tietjens are exceptional individuals who embody the values of the sport and inspire rugby players worldwide.

“We are honoured to have them as our ambassadors for 2024 and believe their involvement will further enhance the tournament’s reputation as a premier international rugby sevens event.”

“Fans will get the chance to meet Titch and Dan face to face as they join the many activities planned for the week.”

The tournament holds a special place amongst sporting events in Fiji. Well known for its exhilarating displays of skill, teamwork, and sportsmanship, the tournament attracts rugby enthusiasts from around the world to the beautiful Nadroga region of Fiji.

Since its inception in 2010, Fiji’s Coral Coast 7s has successfully merged two of Fiji’s greatest assets — rugby 7s and the Coral Coast — to create an event that celebrates the rich talent and vibrant
rugby culture of the nation.

Driven by the tourism sector of the Coral Coast Hotel Association, the tournament has grown exponentially, with a prize pool of $20,000 up for grabs in its inaugural year, now boasting over $75k.

Over the years, the Coral Coast 7s has played a pivotal role in the development of rugby in Fiji, nurturing young talent and providing a platform for players to showcase their skills on an international stage, with numerous players going on to international representation and signing professional contracts overseas.