They came from far and wide to pay homage to the greatest sevens coach of all time on Tuesday.

Close and distant family members, former greats of the sevens game, business colleagues and rugby fans all wanted to say "well done Titch" for a remarkable career.

The launch of Sir Gordon Tietjens' book Legacy was the catalyst to get everyone together but it was also a major fundraiser for Alzheimers Tauranga.

Tietjens is patron of the charity in an emotional connection made after his mother passed away from the disease. The signed jerseys and other prizes auctioned at the lunch held at Mills Reef raised more than $10,000 for the charity.


Three of the greatest captains of his sevens teams were there in Eric Rush, DJ Forbes and Tafai Ioasa with Rush providing the entertainment in his usual witty style.

It was a fitting way to hail the man who in 22 years with the All Blacks Sevens team has set a record that is unlikely to be matched.

Tietjens has moved on from the dramatic disappointment at the Rio Olympics to mentoring a resurgent Samoan sevens team. The timing of his second book, splendidly co-written by Sky Television personality Scotty Stevenson, could not be better.

"Gordon is a very organised man and a very busy man. The great thing about a subject like that is he has an amazing track record but, also for me, it was trying to define a little bit more about what makes him tick," Stevenson said.

"We all know him in terms of his coaching and playing career but I wanted to really dive into the philosophies behind Gordon Tietjens. What you find is a man who thinks pretty deeply about what he does and he has been influenced by a lot of people who are very close to him.

"That is one of the main themes of the book. He is very respectful of those who have helped him and supported him. He is a very loyal man."

Since last year Tietjens has brought all his energy and a lifetime's knowledge to a new group of Samoan players that has rekindled his passion for the game.

"They haven't had much success on the world stage for a long time. During the writing of the book Gordon was spending a lot of time in organisation for the new season which is going to be all the World Series tournaments plus the Commonwealth Games," Stevenson said.

"Certainly the focus on making that programme a success comes through."

Tietjens explains in the book how he transferred the values and strategies from sevens to his successful career in sales and management with Bay Engineers.

His challenging upbringing in Rotorua is where he built up his determination and single-minded focus.

Bay of Plenty rugby fans will enjoy how Tietjens is proud to have played 81 games for the Steamers as a robust loose forward before coaching the Steamers over two stints.

But the real insight in Legacy is how he built a unique culture of intensive fitness training and strict nutrition that paved the way for his remarkable success.

Talent identification is another of his trademarks. What he first saw in Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen makes for captivating reading.

But it has not all been plain sailing. Tietjens battled the NZ Rugby Union from the moment he went against the opinions of the three All Blacks selectors in naming his first New Zealand sevens team in 1994.

Not having the players he wanted was an ordeal that never ended throughout his tenure but reached its peak preceding Rio Olympics. Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Ardie Savea had offered Tietjens their desire to play at the Olympics but for various reasons disclosed in the book they and others never reached Rio.

Tietjens touches on the growth of player power in the 18 months preceding Rio and how he was let down at the highest levels of NZ Rugby before and after the Olympics, but he is not bitter about it.

He tells it in his trademark direct, pragmatic style as he prefers to focus on the positives ahead.

"I believed from the very start that I had the respect from the Samoan players, and that gave me a massive boost. By contrast, I felt that over the previous 18 months in New Zealand some of that trust in me as a coach had been eroded, especially through the one-size-fits-all approach of New Zealand Rugby's high-performance team.

"I maintained right to the last that the New Zealand Sevens team could not be treated like the All Blacks. Sevens as a sport required different thinking to fifteens, and in my opinion it always had. The Samoan opportunity offered me the chance to get back to doing what I did best."

Legacy is a worthy addition to the New Zealand sporting library and an ideal Christmas gift for all sports fans.