What You Need to Know to Go Pro from Sharks Assistant Coach Paul Anthony

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 14:24
  • Paul Anthony
    Paul Anthony
  • Anthony and White
    Anthony and White
  • Blue Bulls u19 Win 2013 Currie Cup Final
    Blue Bulls u19 Win 2013 Currie Cup Final

From coaching the 1 XV of Pretoria Boys High on Brooks Field, to winning the U19 Currie Cup with a stellar group of young Blue Bulls players, to now assisting the Sharks Coach in the 2014 Super Rugby competition, Paul Anthony is a vastly experienced coach. Brought in by former student and PBHS 1st XV Captain John Smit, Paul Anthony has demonstrated that you can put him at any level of rugby and success will soon follow.

YSN had a brief chat with Mr Anthony to get his thoughts on what it takes to move from playing U19 Rugby to one day representing the senior side.

Coaching Career

1989-2006 1st XV Pretoria Boys High Coach 
2000 U18 Blue Bulls Academy Coach
2001-2005  U18 Blue Bulls Craven Week Coach
2004-2007  Assistant SA Schools Coach
2007-2008 Assistant SA "Baby Boks" U21/20 Coach
2008-2013 Blue Bulls U19 Head Coach
2013-Current Sharks Assistant Coach to Jake White

What does it take for a player to move from U19’s to the senior side given that there is so much competition for a starting birth in the senior side?

he has the talent because he has been hand picked by his franchise

First of all, the fact that he has been selected, and we are talking about a high performance player who has been given a junior contract, that means he has the talent because he has been hand picked by his franchise. So he is in a select squad, there is a lot of luck involved. It’s about timing and about your desire to make it. It sounds cliché but those are the three things you’ve got.

hang around a franchise for too long, you could run into a brick wall.

The first thing is the franchise that you're with. When you go to a franchise, and lets assume that you want to go to a big franchise, what’s quite important is to make sure that you go a franchise where your skill level and your entire training are of a high level and standards so you actually are improving. Lets say at fly half, there are maybe four top class fly halves ahead of you and you're U19 in that particular franchise. You must take the benefit of training with that franchise for that year, then you have to look at your situation and say look, there are 4 top class fly halves ahead of me and they are all young. To hang around a franchise for too long, you could run into a brick wall.

What would you recommend for an U19 players still feeling his way in a franchise with good players ahead of him?

They must also realize that if they do not get contracted again, it’s not the end of the world

I would recommend that the player stays. At the end of his U20 year, if he’s playing for a good franchise, playing for the U19's and he is in the squad or in the fringes of the U21 squad, and he’s playing varsity cup hopefully and studying, they should all be studying, I recommend that strongly.

they should all be studying, I recommend that strongly

They must also realize that if they do not get contracted again, it’s not the end of the world because you have been at a franchise where you have developed well. Then they will be open for any other franchise. Some take the proverbial step back and go play for a B-division franchise where they can advance their career by playing more at a senior level and they can move from Pumas to the Lions or the Valke to the Lions or Bulls. So you have to be patient, a lot of players today are impatient; they feel they should be playing like Handre Pollard, Super 15 rugby in their first or second year. It's very few guys who make it like that.

 alot of players today are impatient; they feel they should be playing like Handre Pollard, Super 15 rugby in their first or second year

You have got to be patient, got to make the correct choices, that’s where advice is vital for you as a junior player. You have to make sure you are going to the right place. The last thing I want to say is that you have to work incredibly hard, become better at everything, you got to do extra and you have to be realistic. It does not help to think that you’re in a top franchise with 4 top players ahead of you, that you are going to bomb them out. You have to be realistic with your situation and maybe look to move or continue with your studies. It’s a very small world in rugby and it’s not an everlasting thing.

What if an U19 player has the option of playing overseas, as these days there is no incentive to play locally if you're not going to play for the Springboks?

you can make your own luck

Apart from me saying that if you’re not at one of the big franchises, playing Currie Cup rugby at U19 there is not much incentive. The club rugby system is there; it’s not as big as it should be. The community cup has provided them with a lot of incentive as well as the junior varsity cup, the young guns one and the senior one. My son is in the same position. He was in the Bulls U19 Currie Cup squad for the tournament last year and now he is studying at Stellenbosch, still playing his rugby. He plays club rugby and for the varsity cup side. The club rugby isn’t as tough as what he experienced at the Bulls for example. He is playing rugby and he is enjoying it and if he keeps working hard, he may get some luck, you can make your own luck.

What options are there for a youngster overseas?

Obviously you can go overseas to Ireland, England and play there for a few years if you you’re a talented player. You may end up playing for their country if you’re there long enough, so that’s another option. A lot of players are starting to opt for that one, which is not a bad option.

We see that in Ireland and Scotland especially, they are short of players

We see that in Ireland and Scotland especially, they are short of players, you can sit it out and get citizenship and end up playing for the national team. It's not a bad option but you have to make sure that you’re playing for the right club. You can’t just go to any club, as some of them are Sunday afternoon drinking clubs who happen to play Rugby. There are a handful of very professional clubs and that’s where you have to be.

YSN would like to thank Paul Anthony for taking the time to speak to us :)

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