Sean White of Victoria was slight of build but ferocious in attitude as a rugby player. He will now take that attitude to the bench as interim head coach of the Langford-based Canadian men’s sevens team.
Henry Paul is departing the position after guiding Canada to the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympics last year and the quarter-finals of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games this year.
White, who came out of the Oak Bay High School Barbs to star with James Bay Athletic Association, steps up from this position as assistant coach to Paul and will take the Canadian squad to the HSBC World Series tournaments next month in Dubai and Cape Town. This is an important campaign with the top four placing teams in the 2022-23 World Series season earning berths into the 2024 Paris Olympics.
White earned 27 caps as a player for Canada in XVs, including in the 2011 World Cup, and 32 caps in sevens, including at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and in winning gold medals at the 2011 Guadalajara and 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. His previous head coaching experience includes with JBAA in XVs.
Paul, meanwhile, became defensive coach for the Canada XVs in 2018, which qualified for the 2019 World Cup in Japan. He became Canada sevens head coach in 2020 and qualified Canada for the Tokyo Olympics by winning the Americas’ regional qualifying tournament in George Town, Cayman Islands.
“I’m really proud of my time here in Canada,” Paul said in a statement.
Paul, a dual New Zealand-British citizen and former pro player who has caps for New Zealand in league and England in union, won a silver medal with England in sevens at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He said of his time coaching in Langford: “I’ve worked with some incredible colleagues and coached some world-class players, experiencing too many incredible moments to mention, but ones that I will always cherish. Now is the right time for me to focus on my family and the next challenge in my career.”
A promising young group of sevens players, several from the Island, have inherited the mantle from retired veterans Connor Braid of Victoria, former UVic Vikes star Nathan Hirayama and Harry Jones who played in the Tokyo Olympics.
“The future is bright for this young developing side and I look forward to watching the game we all love continue to flourish in Canada,” said Paul.
Rugby Canada CEO Nathan Bombrys commended Paul for helping build the Canadian program: “Coaching Canada into the Olympic quarter-finals was a highlight of his time with us, and we wish Henry and his family all the best for the future. We are excited about what Sean [White] can bring to the squad and look forward to watching him develop the team over the next two tournaments.”