Chris Paterson, the ultimate sporting role model, is to take on a new, exciting role with Scottish Rugby.
Scotland’s joint cap and points’ record holder ended his 13-year-professional career in style at Murrayfield on Saturday contributing a try in his final outing for Edinburgh Rugby.
Today it was confirmed that 34-year-old Paterson’s inspirational qualities will remain on tap to Scottish Rugby in a new role which will combine both ambassadorial and coaching responsibilities.
Scottish Rugby’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Dominic McKay, said: “Chris Paterson’s years of service to Scottish Rugby as an all-time-great player have come to an end but now there is an opportunity to forge a new and exciting career and enable future generations to benefit from his unparalleled experience.
“One of the reasons Mossy has inspired so many people, is because of his personality. He’s a man who has never forgotten his roots and when he speaks about the honour of representing his country, his club, his town and the people of his country, you know he means it and is humble with it.
“Whether in the boardroom or the changing room, the shopping centre or the classroom, Chris is recognised as the embodiment of all that is good about our sport and our country and having discussed with him his career beyond rugby we wanted to expand the concept of ‘ambassador’ which we have used at specific events and bring it to all the facets of Scottish Rugby.
“Chris will play an important role in promoting the many positive values that rugby offers and through his wealth of experiences both on and off the park he will assist in inspiring the rugby players of the future.”
On the coaching side, Graham Lowe, Scottish Rugby’s High Performance Director, said: “We are taking up the opportunity of exploring how best we can help Chris transition from player to coach.
“We know from, for example, speaking to young players within the Edinburgh set-up the extent of the influence that Chris has and his ability to articulate the knowledge and skills he has acquired throughout his career is already evident.
“Chris has a teaching background, having studied PE before he became a professional player, and we’ve already seen his ability to mentor players – Tom Brown through the Winning Scotland Foundation initiative – and I firmly believe we can develop Chris as a specialist coach and, in turn, infuse our best young talent with the best practice and work ethic which made Chris the player he was.”
Paterson will come under the wing of Duncan Hodge, his former team-mate with Edinburgh and Scotland. Hodge now has a full-time role as national team kicking coach – which extends to working with players in the pro-teams and with age-grade squads.
Paterson’s transition from seasoned player to learning the skills of a specialist coach begins this weekend (12 May) when, courtesy of the support of the Macphail Scholarship, he will fly to New Zealand on a fact-finding mission to Canterbury Crusaders.
Kenneth Ferguson, Director of the Robertson Scholarship Trust, said: “The Macphail scholarship was started in 2004 as a means of assisting in the development of some of our best young playing talent by testing them in the intense environment of New Zealand rugby.
“In the last few years we have extended this concept by also supporting coaches in their development and we are absolutely delighted to be able to further Chris’s desire to transition from playing to coaching.
“It will also be very special for the Macphail family, with their own proud links to international rugby, to know that Chris Paterson’s first steps in his new direction are being supported by us in this most practical way.”
Paterson said: “I’m delighted to take on this new role and can’t wait to get my teeth into it. I'm really excited about going to New Zealand and looking to get lots from it. The first really obvious thing would be what it's like to approach games as a coach and not a player.
“I'm interested in learning about planning, long-term and short-term and how flexible the long term plans are depending on how the season differs to what you'd planned for. Do you change your style of play if you are not successful or do you persevere because you know it'll come good?
“Also, how should you watch a game as a coach? I've almost always watched individuals, through analysis of my own game and my opposite numbers. Do you have a check sheet or a blue print in your mind which is the same for each game? Or are you better to treat each game individually? I'd assume a bit of both.”
Note to editors: Chris Paterson won 109 caps for Scotland between 1999 and 2011 and is Scotland’s only male cap centurion. He scored a record-breaking 809 points during that time and was frequently his country’s match-winner through his deadly accurate right boot.
The Macphail Scholarship, now entering its eighth year, was established in memory of former Scotland hooker John Macphail, who died in 2004. In Macphail’s business career, he was chief executive, then chairman, of the Edrington Group, a private company that is owned by the Robertson Trust.
The scholarship has a proud record of assisting the development of Scottish talent by exposing them to different environments. Previous winners include John Barclay, the Glasgow Warriors and Scotland flanker in 2005 and Edinburgh Rugby flanker Roddy Grant, the 2008 recipient.
Two of last year’s recipients, lock Grant Gilchrist and stand-off Harry Leonard have played regularly for Edinburgh Rugby in the RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup this year. Leonard and fellow scholar George Turner were involved in the past season’s Scotland under-20 RBS 6 Nations campaign and both have been named in the Scotland under-20 squad for next month’s IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa, with Leonard the captain.
The two players who are this year’s Macphail scholars are Gregor Hunter the Edinburgh Rugby stand-off/full-back and Jonny Gray, the Hamilton and Glasgow Warriors EDP lock. Gray is the younger brother of Scotland and Glasgow Warriors lock Richie Gray.
Paterson will join Scottish Rugby’s Edinburgh and Midlothian Regional Academy Coach, Ben Fisher, on his trip to New Zealand under the auspices of the Macphail Scholarship.