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Ponty's John Wins Coach of Year Award

22nd May 2008

Pontypridd coach Paul John succeeded Ebbw Vale's Alex Codling as the Principality Premiership 'Coach of the Year'. The former Wales international took Ponty to the Konica Minolta Cup final and third place in the league.

Paul John acknowledged his coaching and backroom staff in receiving his award.

"Dale McIntosh has been inspirational as assistant coach, as have the rest of the backroom staff at Sardis Road.

"My father, Denis, has always been there for me if I ever need to ask any coaching questions regarding ideas for sessions or selection and I got a great start to my coaching career working with Simon King for three years.

"It was disappointing to lose the Cup final in the way we did last Saturday, but finishing third in a competitive League was pleasing. However, we need to work on our consistency next season if we want to challenge Neath and Cardiff at the top.

"It's a difficult job to compete with the best as inevitably our best players gain regional recognition, so you need to build a new squad each season. But we work closely with the Blues academy set-up, who continue to provide good, young players as we've seen this year with scrum half Rhys Downes, hooker Rhys Williams and prop Sam Hobbs."

Wales coach Warren Gatland was at the awards dinner and stated one of his goals for next season is to watch more Principality Premiership rugby.

"The Premiership gives youngsters the opportunity to mix with more experienced players week-in-week out and gives them valuable game time to ready them for regional rugby.

"I'm a big advocate of the Regions using more Welsh qualified players and, if players are performing well in the Premiership, that gives regions the confidence to give them a go at the next level. It's certainly an important stepping stone to senior rugby."

Gatland also sent a clear signal to players not to give up on their dreams of one day playing Regional rugby:

"I would advise players to keep working hard. Sometimes it may take an extra year or two to break into a Regional set-up and for Regional coaches to give them a chance. But hard work will bring opportunities. Players should never give up on their dream to play to their full potential."