November 12 - Paul John (pictured), the man who guided Wales to victory at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai earlier this year, has been voted the country's Coach of the Year, it was announced today.


The former PE teacher collected his award today at Cardiff’s Welsh Institute of Sport.


John'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, judges said.


The 39-year-old John, a former scrum half who won 10 caps for Wales, took on the role of national sevens Coach in October 2008 and just five months later was leading them to glory at 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 champions.
John Schropfer, the Welsh Rugby Union development manager, who nominated John said: "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."


John's father, Dennis, had led Pontypridd to triumph in the Welsh Cup in 1996 and was responsible for their Championship crown accomplishment in 1997.


He then took over as Wales’s caretaker coach in 1998 before the appointment of Graham Henry.

Philip Carling, the chairman of the Sports Council for Wales, 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 instills the core values of hard work, accountability, belief and – above all – enjoyment.”


Also rewarded as Malcolm Arnold (pictured right), a man who's coaching career spans over 40 years was recognised for his continued contribution to sport.


Arnold, who has helped shape the careers of many high profile athletes, including Wales' own Colin Jackson, had his dedication rewarded by taking home the Lifetime Achievement award.


Arnold, the Wales' national coach from 1974 to 1994, led Jackson to an Olympic silver medal, World, European and Commonwealth Games titles and a world record in the 110 metres hurdles.


Arnold continues to play a key role in developing Olympic hopefuls, guiding Swansea Harrier, Dai Greene to the World Championship final in the 400m hurdles and a string of personal bests in 2009 and bringing Rhys Williams back from injury to qualify for the Berlin World Championships.


Wales' Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said: "I would like to warmly congratulate each one of the winners and in particular Paul John.


"He deserves great credit for the performances of Wales's rugby Sevens squad and to steer the team to a richly-deserved triumph in the Sevens World Cup makes him a worthy winner of this prestigious award.


"Behind each one of the award winners, there seems to be a truly inspiring story of sporting commitment.


"I hope that other coaches, at all levels of sport in Wales, are inspired by their examples and carry on their good work.


"It is vital we recognise the crucial importance of their work, without which sport in Wales would not exist."



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