The man at the helm of Pontypridd and the Welsh Rugby Sevens - Paul John - was awarded the prestigious Sports Council for Wales 'Coach of the Year' accolade today, along with High Performance Coach of the Year, at a glittering ceremony at Cardiff's Welsh Institute of Sport.
The former PE teacher’s contribution to rugby in Wales over the past 12 months undoubtedly put him in prime position on the podium, after he became the first Welsh coach to lead a team to World Cup victory in any sport.
Pontyclun-born Paul first pulled on his boots for local side Llantwit Fardre, the scrum half went on to play and captain Pontypridd and earn 10 caps for his country.
Taking on the role of National Sevens Coach in October 2008, just five months later Paul was leading his first choice squad out to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai. Having knocked out the tournament favourites, New Zealand, in an earlier round, Wales went on to beat Argentina 19-12 and be crowned Rugby World Cup Sevens Champions.
Nominated by John Schropfer, WRU National Coach Development Manager, the 39 year-old former-Wales international player dedicates every spare second developing his squad.
Schropfer explains: “Paul’s attributes make him an ideal role model for the young players aspiring to become professional players. His empowering style of coaching has seen his charges develop considerably this last year. He is the first Welsh rugby coach who can say that he has won the World Cup for Sevens. This was an incredible achievement.”
And coaching must be in the blood for father, Dennis, led Pontypridd to triumph in the Welsh Cup in 1996 and was responsible for the Championship crown accomplishment in 1997. He then took over as Wales’s caretaker coach in 1998 before the appointment of Graham Henry.
Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, Philip Carling said: “Paul John has made a massive contribution to Welsh sport, in particular, rugby and we have certainly enjoyed the fruits of his labour this year with a World Cup victory. Good coaches inspire, motivate and encourage and it’s vital that we recognise their work.
“The awards also demonstrate that coaches at local level are just as vital as those who work with elite athletes. It is their industrious contribution that encourages youngsters into sport, keeps them motivated and active at a young age and instils the core values of hard work, accountability, belief and – above all – enjoyment.”