Hall of Fame for Sevens guru
New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame after his team sealed their tenth Sevens World Series title in 13 years at Twickenham on Sunday.
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) said inductees were not normally eligible for Hall of Fame honours until three years after they retired but the IRB made an exception for Tietjens because of his outstanding contribution to the game.
"He has been at the top of his game for 17 years and has led the New Zealand sevens team to all 10 of their world titles and four Commonwealth Games gold medals, an amazing accomplishment for any coach," NZRU chief Steve Tew said.
Tietjens signed a contract extension last month that will see him coach the New Zealand team when Sevens makes its Olympic debut at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said Tietjens had been instrumental in gaining Olympic recognition for the short form of the game.
"For many years his New Zealand side has been the standard bearer for the game and, through his knowledge, passion and expertise, he has driven the standards towards what we now celebrate as a truly global game of Sevens," he said.
Lapasset presented the commemorative cap and gold pin to Tietjens at an awards ceremony at Twickenham Stadium, shortly after his team had clinched the World Series. Tietjens is the 49th inductee into the IRB Hall of Fame.
In all, it was a 10th World Series title for Tietjens, who has been head coach of the New Zealand Sevens side since 1994, in which time 37 All Blacks have passed through his tough regime.
Tietjens said he was "shocked" and "humbled" by the honour.
"I can only thank the players that have been a big part of my life, the players that have contributed to the successes in the game that I have had," he added.
New Zealand's World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry was one of the first to pay tribute to Tietjens.
"Congratulations Gordon on your induction to the IRB Hall of Fame, you've been a great ambassador for the game. All those World Series and Commonwealth titles, very special. It's a huge award and very well deserved," said Henry, who called Tietjens in before the 2011 World Cup to help condition the All Blacks.
Tietjens' peers in the Sevens game also joined in congratulating him on the honour.
"Gordon has been around for so many years and I think any coach aspires to achieve similar success," said his South African counterpart, Paul Treu.
England Sevens coach Ben Ryan added: "Gordon has a tried and trusted formula that nobody can argue hasn't worked over the last decade. Even if you know what's coming, it's still pretty hard to deal with and that's why Gordon has won world titles."