Australian Sevens coach Michael O'Connor resigns

The Australian Sevens team is in a race against time to prepare for the Rio Olympics after long-standing coach Michael O'Connor resigned.

O'Connor, a dual code international who played 13 Tests at centre for the Wallabies, cited family reasons for his decision to resign earlier this week after five-and-a-half years in the job.

"With the Sevens program recently moving to a full-time base in Sydney, and with the international travel to tournaments, it simply meant too much time away from home," O'Connor said.

"Nevertheless, this move to Sydney is a real step forward for Sevens in Australia, and it aligns us with other countries chasing a gold medal at the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

"I believe that this young Australian squad will be a definite medal chance and now that they live and train in the same place, they will continue to improve and find ways to win."

O'Connor guided the Sevens program through an enormous period of growth, when the International Rugby Board targeted the format as its key global expansion strategy and the sport was accepted into the Olympics.

He faced considerable challenges too, struggling to maintain a consistent talent pool in the face of low wages and a high exodus to the 15-man format.

A number of current Super Rugby and Wallabies players started their professional careers in sevens, including Bernard Foley, Liam Gill, Luke Morahan, Nick Phipps, Pat McCutcheon, Tevita Kuridrani and Jono Lance.

The team's best results in recent years was a silver medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a world series win in Tokyo in 2012. The side is currently focused on qualifying for Rio in 2016.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver thanked O'Connor for his "incredible dedication".

"He has provided strong leadership and stability since 2008 and has overseen an era of incredible change for Rugby Sevens including the move to professionalism," Pulver said.

"We're delighted that Michael will continue to stay involved in our Sevens programs and we will use the months ahead to ensure there is a smooth transition to his successor.”

Sevens general manager Anthony Eddy will head up a global search for O'Connor's replacement.

The Queensland-based coach will stay with the ARU and take on a development role in the Sevens program.

This story Australian Sevens coach Michael O'Connor resigns first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.