Fiji

AP

Fiji puts Olympic champion rugby team on dollars, coins

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SUVA, Fiji (AP) — The government of Fiji is issuing two million $7 banknotes to commemorate the Pacific island nation’s Olympic gold medal victory in rugby sevens last year in Rio de Janeiro.

The banknotes, which are legal tender, were released through bank branches on Friday.

A $7 Fijian banknote is worth approximately $3.35.

Fiji’s reserve bank will also issue one million 50-cent coins with the image of England-born Ben Ryan, who coached Fiji to its first Olympic gold medal, on one side, and Fiji players hoisting the Olympic trophy on the other.

Announcing the release of the notes and coins on Friday, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said Fiji’s gold medal success showed that despite its small size, it could compete with the best in the world.

Ryan, who no longer is the Fijian sevens coach, posted a photo on Twitter of the coin with his image showing, and tweeted: “Fiji’s new 50c Coin – what a journey I’ve had.”

Ryan also tweeted a photo of the $7 note, adding “just shows you how much the Fijian people care and value its rugby. Awesome.”

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Fiji Olympic rugby coach given 3 acres of land, special name

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Olympic coaches don’t receive gold medals. Fiji Olympic men’s rugby coach Ben Ryan may have gotten something better anyway.

Ryan’s reward for guiding Fiji to its first Olympic medal in any sport — gold in rugby sevens’ Olympic debut — included three acres of land in Fiji and a new name, Ratu Peni Raiyani Latianara, according to Fijian reports.

Ryan, a London native, is stepping down as coach of the Fijian team. The 44-year-old coached the team for three years after leading the England national sevens team for six years.

MORE: Fiji wins nation’s first Olympic medal

WATCH LIVE: Great Britain, Fiji contend for first men’s rugby Olympic gold

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The first ever men’s rugby sevens medals will be handed out Thursday, and some of the biggest names in the sport are alive for Rio glory.

Great Britain will contend for the gold medal when it tries to upend world No. 1 sevens side Fiji, leaving South Africa and Japan to contend for bronze.

WATCH LIVE: Medal matches, placing matches

New Zealand will face surprising Argentina for fifth place, while France battles Australia for seventh. Ninth through twelfth were decided earlier, with the United States coming out on top.