The Ray Thomas formula for attractive attacking rugby will always be part of the Bull Sharks’ DNA. PICTURE: STEPHEN TREMAIN
By PAT McLEOD
Bond University Rugby Head Coach Grant Anderson has saluted his outgoing assistant coach Ray Thomas, saying the Bull Sharks’ attack will always carry a part of the veteran coach’s DNA.
“Ray is not only a close friend, but also has been a significant mentor for me,” said Anderson.
“I have had a long association with Ray and he has had a massive influence on me as a player then as a coach.
“He has an amazing depth of knowledge of the game of rugby, but the stamp he leaves at Bond is his influence on our attacking game.
“He is a great believer in playing what is in front of you instead of relying too much on set plays. He supported that philosophy with his ability to upskill players, so they had the skills and confidence to back themselves.
“I believe we have a distinct style of how we play rugby at Bond and a large slice of that is an exciting, attractive brand of attacking play … and that is largely a result of Ray’s input.”
Thomas played senior rugby in Melbourne and then moved to the Gold Coast, linking with the Brisbane Souths club, before the establishment of the Breakers and then Bond Rugby on the tourist strip.
Anderson said Thomas then moved on to a coaching role with Souths and won five premierships through the 1980s and ‘90s.
“He coached Souths through arguably their greatest era,” said Anderson. “He helped turn good players into great players – the likes of Tim Horan, Jason Little, Damian Smith and Garrick Morgan.
“When I left school I played rugby at Brisbane Souths and Ray was the coach there then,” recalls Anderson.
“Eventually we would travel together from the Gold Coast to Brisbane for training. When the Breakers started on the Gold Coast we both became part of that club.”
Thomas took up a senior coaching role at The Southport School and had considerable success there before joining Anderson as his assistant at Bond in 2018.
“Ray has been an extremely effective sounding board for me during my coaching career,” said Anderson.
“There is no doubt I will still be talking rugby with him for many years to come.
“Ray has helped build a solid platform for Bond University Rugby, something we can now build on for greater success.”
Bond Director of Rugby Luca Liussi said Thomas’ influence at Bond extended much further than the playing field.
“Ray’s passion for the game is contagious,” said Liussi.
“He loves talking about the game. Win or lose he will always show an amazing amount of enthusiasm.
“Ray played a major role in guiding our premier grade side to their inaugural finals berth last year and has been very influential in the Bond brand of attack.”
All Bond rugby teams are now back in training mode, focusing on strength sessions at the club’s High Performance Training Centre, regarded as one of the best club facilities of its type in Australia.
Pre-season training is scheduled to start in January.