State of the art Gordon Tietjens Rugby Academy

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The Eagles Rugby Club (ERC) could not have got a better endorsement than from legendary Sir Gordon Tietjens when he came on board to help lift the game to greater heights in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Malaysia and Asia as a whole.

The link up with Sir Tietjens was formalised on March 15th this year with the launch of the Sir Gordon Tietjens Eagles Rugby Academy at ERS Sports Arena at Bandar Utama, Mile 6, JalanUtara, Sandakan.

The academy has been hailed for moulding future 7s stars and aspiring high-performance coaches with improvedknowledge of the game.

“ERC believes that it is a wonderful opportunity for us to harness the in-depth knowledge and expertise of this great rugby legend and maximise use of such knowledge for the good of the game here and elsewhere,” said ERC presidentVelayuthan Tan.

“I had no second thoughts of lending my name to this Academy and to be personally involved because the facilities here are second to none and world standard,” said Tietjens, who is the academy chairman, in a telephone interview.

“After coaching New Zealand for 22 years, I thought I was going to retire but I want to give something back to the game and this opportunity in this part of the region was the best thing to come to me,” said Tietjensthe former coach of the NZ Men’s National Team and the All Blacks Sevens.

Tietjens is a motivational speaker considered to be one of the finest coaches of any sport in the world. He has led New Zealand’s dominating run in the world of rugby sevens throughout the 1990s and 2000’s.

In the 16 years since the IRB Rugby World Series has been run, he has won 12 World Titles and 4 Commonwealth Games Gold Medals – 1998 Kuala Lumpur, 2002 Manchester, 2006 Melbourne and 2010 Delhi. He was named the New Zealand Rugby Union Coach of the year in 2010 recognised for guiding his team to a fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal.

In 1999 his efforts were recognised by being awarded the NZ Order of Merit in the New Zealand’s Honours List and again in 2007 he was awarded the Insignia of a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2012 Tietjens became the 49th inductee into the International Rugby Board’s Hall of Fame.

The commemorative cap and gold pin were presented at an awards ceremony at Twickenham, shortly after New Zealand clinched their 11th World Series title from 14 attempts. Tietjenswas further promoted in 2013 to a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to rugby after 19 years of coaching the All Black Sevens.

Tietjensis known for his no nonsense leadership style and uncanny ability to spot raw new talent. Whether it’s the motivation he injects into his teams, his refusal to accept anything but the best from his players, or his absolute belief in his ability to pick and coach people to be the best they can be. Tietjensis a remarkable man with a remarkable track record in sport and working with winning teams.

Tietjens said rugby sevens has always been about culture and conditioning – the two real qualities of the sport.

“And ERS such have the facilities to put conditioning in place and create the rugby culture,” he said.

The academy is indeed a complete one-stop centre for rugby development.

The birth of the Academy is a dream come true for Vela Tan who had visualised an academy more than 15 years ago.

It has finally materialised through hard work, determination, passion and support of IJM Land who had contributed to the six acres of prime land for the Arena and contributions from supporters, while Vela himself having to fork out substantial money from his own pocket.

A High Performance Warehouse Fitness Centre was also officially opened during the academy’s launch.

The centre boasts a full array of state-of-the-art cross-training equipment housed in one of the biggest structures designed and purpose-built for fitness training.

In conjunction of the launch in March, a three-day rugby course was personally facilitated by Tietjensassisted by coaches Edwin Cocker (former NZ All Blacks 7s captain), Rocky Khan (former All Blacks 7s player) and Crystal Kaua (Ex- NZ women Black Fern player).

ERS has indeed made a remarkable impact not only in Malaysian rugby but for all sports associations and clubs to emulate to help promote and develop their respective sports.

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