Henry Paul leaves Jebel Ali Dragons to take up coaching role with Canada

Matt Jones 20/05/2018
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Henry Paul has left Jebel Ali Dragons to take up a role with Canada.

After masterminding a return to glory following a four-year trophy drought, Henry Paul will now hope to assist Canada reach a ninth-straight Rugby World Cup after leaving Jebel Ali Dragons.

New Zealander Paul has already left Dubai and arrived in Canada, where he will take up an assistant coaching role with the Canucks.

Paul will work directly under former Wales international Kingsley Jones – the Canada head coach who approached his friend earlier in the year to help him at the America’s Rugby Championship (ARC).

The two had previously worked together with Russia from 2011-14 and both Jones and Rugby Canada must have been suitably impressed by what Paul offered during his brief spell with the team on his Dragons sabbatical.

Paul, speaking from Toronto after gaining an 18-month visa, admitted it had all happened very quickly.

He jumped straight into action with a Canada Select XV playing the Ontario Arrows on Friday, as well as several more fixtures over the coming weeks.

“We play back to back games over the next two weeks then Scotland, Russia and USA in June which will be a really good experience for the team,” he said.

Canada have already qualified for the four-team World Repechage round robin tournament in November which will determine who will go to next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Jebel Ali celebrate after victory in Bahrain saw them win the West Asia Premiership.

Jebel Ali celebrate after victory in Bahrain saw them win the West Asia Premiership.

Having ended a four-year drought for a trophy in 2017/18, Dragons will hope more silverware follows next season – but they will defend their West Asia title without the influential man who led them back to glory.

But he leaves with the best wishes of everyone at Dragons, with Stuart Quinn thanking him for his near two years in charge, which saw him return the club to UAE rugby’s top table.

“We are really stoked for him, it’s exactly what he wants to do to take his career forward,” said the Dragons chairman.

“We lose a great coach and an even better Dragon.

“Since HP joined he has added a huge amount of professionalism to what we do. He’s made players think far harder about the game we want to play. He’s made smarter rugby players.

“He’s also balanced that with buying into what being a Dragon is all about. There has never been a better feeling in any rugby club I’ve been involved in. He has 100 mates that call themselves Dragons.”

Former Wales international Kingsley Jones and Paul took Russia to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Former Wales international Kingsley Jones and Paul took Russia to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

And even though he has left a void, Quinn feels it might not be the end of Paul’s time with the club. He moved out to Dubai originally to be with wife Philippa, who works for Emirates, and Quinn insists the door has not been shut.

“The most professional coach the league has seen but with true rugby values. He got the best out of guys. He will be back, just a small job of getting the Canadians to Japan,” said Quinn.

“We have big shoes to fill, however in true Dragons spirit, it will be an interesting appointment.”

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Clinical Leinster and other talking points from win over Munster in PRO14 semi-final

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Leinster booked their place in the PRO14 final courtesy of a 16-15 win over Munster at the RDS in Dublin.

Here, we take a look at some major takeaways from the contest.

Physical Irish derby

The Leinster-Munster rivalry may have been running out of steam in recent years, but this match was a war of attrition.

Although Munster were beaten, their style of play could be a template for next season if they can reduce the error count. They showed that if every player reaches the required intensity no team, not even Leinster with their superior squad depth, will easily beat them.

It was an incredible contest and had everything from big hits, strong defences, tries and some back-line flair.

A definite template to build up excitement for future fixtures in the competition next season.

Leinster clinical

The home side were well-structured and efficient in attack all afternoon and their defence remained resolute anytime Munster came bounding into their half.

The Blues may not have performed to their full potential, but still carried well, their ideas in attack and defence were accurate and they got over the gain line easily.

A mix of youth and experience served the winners well, with Garry Ringrose stepping up superbly in the coveted 13 shirt in the absence of injured Robbie Henshaw.

Leinster may have only crossed the white wash once all afternoon, but poured into space and showed sharpness with ball in hand.

In contrast, Munster defensive line was poor – and they made too many unforced errors.

Lethal Lowe

One of the most exciting players to watch in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment.

The Kiwi winger produced an attacking masterclass against Munster and his ability to offload out of the tackle is always a key point of difference to Leinster.

His standout moment early on was a sumptuous offload to pave the way for Jack Conan’s opening try after eight minutes.

He was also unlucky not to get on the scoreboard when chopped down by Sammy Arnold close to the line midway through the first half.

Unfortunate to be left out of Leinster’s Champions Cup win, Lowe’s attacking and defensive prowess will be key to the Blues prospects next season in the absence of retiring captain Isa Nacewa.

Munster misfortunes

Munster dominated territory but there were too many unforced errors in attack.

Johann van Graan’s side didn’t let themselves down physically or tactically, but it was their inaccuracy in execution that hurt them.

The Red Army threw these big loopy passes out wide, which most often or not, went forward. That was the killer for them.

In contrast, if they held on to the ball and went through the phases and stayed patient, they could have opted for a different route to break down the Leinster defence.

Showed great drive to threaten Leinster’s line, but their mistakes made Leinster look the better team.

Record keeps going

22 not out.

At just 21, totemic lock James Ryan is yet to lose a professional game in his 22 outings for club and country, but aside from that, he is already one of the best players in the world at the moment.

His voracious workrate makes him one of the central figures in the Leinster pack, coupled with his ability to pass and make breaks, which is a testament to the 15-man game Leinster are implementing.

He may not make the metres like other forwards, but he is constantly in the right place at the right time to deny opposition players from breaking through.

Well refereed

Stuart Berry let this game flow and if there was a 50/50 call he would always keep the game going.

The South African performed superbly, a vast contrast last Saturday’s European final where Wayne Barnes blew the whistle at every opportunity to spoil an open contest.

Even when Berry did make a decision, he always played it out to its fullest and let the advantage flow.

He showed a fantastic attitude towards a demanding game.

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Must-win game for Munster and other talking points ahead of PRO14 semi-final against Leinster

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Leinster take on Munster in Saturday’s PRO14 semi-final at the Aviva Stadium.

Here, we take a look at three talking points ahead of the game.

Must-win game for Munster

Munster will have to be accurate to execute a game plan to beat Leinster and secure a place in their third final in four years.

Johan van Graan’s side are yet to taste victory against their provincial neighbours this season, having lost 23-17 to the Blues in October and 34-24 in the reverse fixture at Thomond Park in December.

While the odds may be stacked against them, the Red Army will be desperate to beat a fatigued Leinster side with Conor Murray’s tactical ticking, CJ Stander’s threatening carries, a pacy back three and accurate distribution from JJ Hanrahan all primary assets.

The wreckage of their disappointing Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Racing will motivate Munster, with the prospect of adding a first trophy to the cabinet since 2011 sure to inspire Peter O’Mahony and co ahead of next season.

Champions Cup come down?

Following the emotion of the victory in Bilbao last week, Leinster have little time to reflect on their fourth European crown with all eyes on the clash in Dublin.

European final takes plenty from a team, not only physically but also psychologically. But if Munster can lift their game from the four point win over Edinburgh on May 5 then it could be a tighter battle than many think.

Leinster have been in this position before and twice their Champions Cup and PRO14 double hopes have been scuppered, with defeats to Munster and Ospreys in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

It’s by no means a full strength and fresh Leinster XV but with an embarrassment of riches to select from, they can trouble any opposition if their back-line is provided with quick ball in space.

Absence of big names could level up proceedings

With Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw such pivotal figures on both an attacking and defensive front for Leinster, their absence could level up the contest in Dublin.

The strength and consistency in defence has made the key difference to Cullen’s side this season, with Henshaw at the forefront of their dominance in this area.

The Athlone man has no fear and his reading of the game makes it easier for the players on his outside, but a knee injury sidelines him this weekend with Garry Ringrose moving to 13 and Isa Nacewa selected at 12.

At 10, Johnny Sexton’s leadership and game management will be another significant loss for the Blues with a groin injury ruling him out of action.

The Irish star is a model of consistency any time he gets the ball in hand, and has the ability to keep his side on the frontfoot in attack.

23-year-old Ross Byrne will step in and add solidity, but devoid of the same game-changing influence.

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