Henry Paul has left Jebel Ali Dragons after masterminding a return to silverware following four-year drought
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.
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.”
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.”