Rugby Players at Flinders Welcome Top Coach and Prepare to Tour

Rugby players at Matthew Flinders Anglican College are fortunate to have one of Australia’s top schoolboy’s rugby coaches on board as they prepare to tour interstate this Easter holidays – their first school tours since the pandemic began. 

John Papahatzis has a distinguished track record in school rugby, having helped coach rugby greats, including Ricky Stuart, David Furner, George Gregan and Matt Gitaeu, and also coached the Australian schoolboy’s team to multiple victories.

He will mentor and support rugby students and staff in his new roles as the Flinders Director of Coaching for Rugby and the Flinders 1st XV Rugby Coach. 

Flinders Principal Stuart Meade said, “John is a very experienced and knowledgeable coach who understands schoolboy rugby and the skills and teamwork required for teams to succeed at that level.

“He builds a rapport with the players and challenges them to lift their own expectations of what is possible,” Stuart said. “He will help to develop confidence in our players and develop a skill base that will filter through all teams.” 

Most recently, John worked as the Director of Rugby and 1st XV Coach at St Augustine's College Sydney from 2005 to 2019. The team won nine NSW Waratah Shields across that time and eight ISA Premierships.

John said he was looking forward to helping Flinders students to fulfill their potential, with many new players joining the College teams in recent years. 

“Rugby coaching is a lifetime passion of mine and I hope to use my knowledge and experience to further enhance individual, unit and team skills at the College,” John said.  

Flinders Head of Sport Adam Ridgewell said, “We are excited that John is working across our Junior Rugby Club and school program.

“He will help to upskill and align our coaches to a common Flinders vision and plan – from our Under 6s all the way up to our Flinders 1st XV,” Adam said.

“And John is fully vested in a successful outcome – with his grandson taking his part in the journey, having started in the Under 7s team last year.”

Rugby Coaching at Flinders

John is supported in coaching rugby at the College by Mr Peter Ryan and Mr Ben Radmall. Peter is in his second year of mentoring Flinders players to develop contact and defence skills, and is a former Brisbane Broncos and ACT Brumbies premiership winner and specialist coach for the Broncos, Brumbies, Fiji and Queensland Reds. 

Also coaching rugby at Flinders for many years is teacher Mr Ben Radmall who has extensive experience as a former development officer for the Sunshine Coast Rugby Union and Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club in England.

John Papahatzis joins seven other Directors of Coaching at Flinders who are all elite athletes in their respective sports, including Rodney Davison (Cricket), Rachel Sihota (Hockey), Lauren Nourse (Netball), Paul Arnison (Soccer), Peta Rogerson (Touch Football), Dale Ryan (Basketball) and Duncan Greenbank (Water Polo). 

Flinders Tours and Comps in 2022

The Flinders First XV and Second XV boys’ rugby teams last year made the Sunshine Coast Schools Grand Finals to finish as runners-up, and are looking forward to their upcoming Canberra tour in April where they will play matches against Radford College and Marist College in Canberra.

Also touring in April are Flinders’ two girls’ rugby 7s teams – the Under 14s and Under 16s – who will compete at The Armidale School Rugby Carnival from 9-10 April.

The popular regional carnival celebrates its inaugural year of including an all-girls rugby 7s competition. 

Also on tour are the Flinders Rugby Club’s U12 boys who have participated in this event, the largest U12 rugby tournament in the southern hemisphere for over a decade.

In 2022 the Flinders Rugby Under 13s to 1st XV play in the Sunshine Coast Secondary Schools Rugby Union (SCSSRU) fixtures against Independent, Catholic and Government schools in the region. 

What's more, the Flinders Under 14 and U16 Girls' teams play in the SCSSRU 10-a-side competition through Term 3, and then Rugby 7s for both boys and girls is offered via SCISSA in Term 4.

John Papahatzis’ Biography

John’s rugby coaching experience includes:

• Coach of St Edmunds College Canberra 1st XV from 1976-2001 in which period the team won 5 consecutive NSW Waratah Shields
• Coached such rugby greats as Ricky Stuart, David Furner, George Gregan, Matt Gitaeu and Matt Henjak
• Coach of ACT Schools from 1988-1995
• Coach of Australian Schools 1995-1999 which included a 1997 win over the New Zealand Schools for the first time in 10 years, in which top rugby players Phil Waugh, George Smith and David Lyons starred. There was also an eight-week tour of Canada and Great Britain through 1998-99 which resulted in a 13-match undefeated victory.
• Coach of Southern Districts A-Grade Shute Shield Sydney, 2001
• Director of Coaching Waverley College, 2001
• Easts Canberra 1st Grade Coach 2002-2005
• Director of Rugby and 1st XV Coach St Augustine's College Sydney 2005-2019. The team won 9 NSW Waratah Shields across that time and 8 ISA Premierships.
• Coach of NSW Schoolboys to consecutive Australian Schoolboys titles
• Established the Australian arm of International Rugby Academy of NZ in 2019

To learn more about the Flinders Directors of Coaching, please visit the College website page at

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