Chris Paterson embarks on new chapter with Scottish rugby
CHRIS Paterson will leave for New Zealand on Saturday to take the first step in a new coaching career backed by the SRU and the Robertson Trust.
• The 34-year-old’s new role will see him represent Scottish Rugby while also taking on coaching responsibilities
• Scotland’s joint cap and points’ record holder ended his 13-year-professional career at Murrayfield on Saturday contributing a try in his final outing for Edinburgh Rugby.
• Paterson will fly to New Zealand this weekend for a factfinding mission to Canterbury Crusaders
It is one part of a new role for the Edinburgh and Scotland full-back, who signed off from the Test stage at the end of his fourth World Cup in October, and then from the club game on Saturday night with a try in Edinburgh’s win over Treviso.
He’ll be accompanying the young recipients of Macphail scholarships to develop their game in New Zealand and spoke enthusiastically about cutting his teeth in coaching.
As he develops as a coach, the other side of his job is to be Scottish rugby’s face in the community, selling the game to everyone from children to coaches and potential sponsors or investors.
Paterson said: “I have to say thank you to the Macphail Scholarship Trust for this wonderful opportunity. It was only two days ago the boots came off and were thrown in the bottom of the kit bag for the last time as a player, but I’m thoroughly excited to be embarking on this new role, hopefully helping to develop and grow the game in Scotland, and transfer some of the knowledge that I’ve picked up in 14 years of playing.
“When I finished on Saturday night I felt happiness and was so proud of what I had achieved, but the way my mind works that was the end of that chapter and this is the start of the new one, and it’s really important for me to throw all my energy and commitment into what happens next.
“It was nice to finish with a win and a try. In my first-ever game on the Murrayfield pitch I scored a try in that corner for Gala and it was almost exactly the same place I scored in my final game. But now I’m just excited and feel a sense of pressure to help promote the game in Scotland. I’m hugely passionate about Scottish rugby. It’s been great to me and hopefully the knowledge I’ve picked up over the years I can pass on, and I can develop the skills as a coach to make a difference.”
Dominic McKay, the SRU’s director of communications and public affairs, spoke of watching Paterson captivate rooms full of people, whether it was pro players, young children, businessmen and women associated with Edinburgh or Scotland and other corporate supporters, and sensing over the past year that he could provide unique talent to the Scottish game after his playing days.
“Chris is a fantastic role model,” he said. “He promotes the values that underpin rugby – leadership, integrity and friendship – and we’re very keen at Scottish Rugby to promote those values domestically to inspire the kids of the future to take up the sport, but also internationally. And when we looked across our sporting landscape we couldn’t find anyone anywhere near as good as Chris to do that, so we’re thrilled to hold on to him.
“Chris’ background as a PE teacher assists him in engaging with young people in a way that many other sporting athletes can’t necessarily do, and the feedback we get is that kids recognise and relate to Chris.
“Our ambition is to grow the sport rapidly over the next few years as we head towards the World Cup in 2015 and we see Chris as an important assistant in promoting the sport and changing people’s perception of Scottish rugby as a game which is inclusive and open for all.”
On the coaching side, SRU director of performance rugby Graham Lowe said that Paterson would join the specialist coaching group led by Eddie Pollock, where coaches are sent across Scotland to work with players from the national side down to youth levels in regional groups, and with coach education, with the remit of helping to improve skills and tactical coaching.
He will support Duncan Hodge with goal-kicking, and in other forms of kicking, but Paterson is hoping to return from New Zealand next month able to inject new ideas to Scottish attacking play.
Paterson said: “I’m starting out on the bottom rung of the ladder and I have to learn the trade and the skills. My coaching will develop initially through specialist skills but I’d like to look more closely at back three stuff, kicking strategies, counter-attack, decision-making and how we transform our ability to finish when we make good attacks.
“I’m looking forward to speaking to guys in New Zealand about how they do that. What is their mindset? Do they anticipate the break? Are they ahead of the game? And I’m keen to look at developing the second receiver role, like John Leslie played for Scotland. Aaron Mauger, who is part of the Canterbury coaching team, was a stand-off who played inside centre, Dan Carter’s playing at 12 at the moment. And learning from them.”
As for the long-term and whether he sees himself working at the grassroots of the game, club or pro level or entertains hopes of becoming Scotland coach one day, he shrugged.
“At the moment, everything! I’ll hopefully get to work with age-grade sides, amateur players, young players and grassroots guys, which is a big part of what I’m looking forward to, as well as the professional fellas, and continuing to work alongside guys like Tom Brown and Stuart Hogg. But I’m an ambitious person and whatever I do I want to do to the best I possibly can and reach as far as I can go. Wherever that is I’ll be giving my all to get there.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West