Shaun Edwards, the Wales defense coach, looks set to stay with Wales after the world cup. Talks with the WRU are in their final stages.
Edwards, an original member of Warren Gatland’s coaching team from 2008, was expected to move on to pastures new when Gatland leaves Wales after the world cup in Japan later this year.
It seemed likely that Edwards was set for a return to rugby league and to take up a post as Wigan Warriors’ head coach.
Edwards has also been approached by English Premiership sides Wasps and Leicester with offers to take top jobs with them.
But it looks as if Wales will benefit from the huge knowledge and experience of the three-time Six Nations Grand Slam winner.
Scarlets head coach, Wayne Pivac, will take over from fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland after the world Cup. Pivac will be relying on Edwards to maintain Wales’ phenomenal defensive record.
Wales’ extraordinary run of success under Gatland has been built on a solid defense. It is Shaun Edwards who has been the mastermind behind Wales’ watertight defense.
Wales were criticized for boring rugby after a championship dominated by their solid defense. But no one can argue with a Six Nations Grand Slam.
Wales’ fitness and organization has been more of a feature of Wales under Gatland and Edwards, more so than open field running and try scoring.
Wales have been extremely difficult to breakdown. In defense Wales play extremely flat and move up fast, especially close to the ruck area.
Wales’ aggressive defense also helped them win a huge number of penalties. Converting penalties into points helped Wales secure the clean sweep.
In the 2019 Six Nations Wales’ tackle completion rate was on top with 91.2 per cent, clear evidence that the Six Nations Grand Slam was in huge part a result of the solid defense constructed by Shaun Edwards.
Current Scarlets Defense coach, Byron Hayward is also joining Wayne Pivac’s new coaching team meaning Wales will have two defense coaches with Edwards working alongside Hayward.
Scarlets and future Wales attack coach, Stephen Jones, played under Edwards in Wales’ 2008 Grand Slam. The pair also coached in the same Wales backroom team that won the Six Nations title in 2013 under Rob Howley when Gatland was away on sabbatical with the British and Irish Lions.
Stephen Jones said:
“Shaun is the incumbent, the guy who is setting the level at the moment.
“He is one of the best coaches I have ever worked for and with.”
Even though Pivac is moving from Parc-y-Scarlets with his current defense coach, Pivac insisted that Edwards had been on his defense coach shortlist. Pivac initially looked elsewhere because Edwards had ruled himself out to pursue other offers, including one to cross codes and take over at Rugby League side Wigan where Edwards played, making 467 appearances over a 14 year playing career.
“Shaun has done a fantastic job – we all know that. He’s a very, very good defense coach.
“Shaun was the first person I spoke with. He indicated early on he was under pressure from Wigan and that the timeline that was imposed on us were unrealistic. I talked around a process we would be going through. That was pre-autumn and pre-Six Nations. Shaun signed with Wigan and that put paid to the discussions going any further. Shaun knew he was on the shortlist, that he was the incumbent. We’d had a meeting and subsequent conversations.”
But after other offers were rejected by Edwards he again became available for Wales, a team he has enjoyed huge success with. And now he is set to sign another contract with the Welsh national side.
There is still some mystery surrounding the destination of Wales head coach Warren Gatland. A potential move to head coach of France has been ruled out after the FFR voted to prevent non-French coaches from taking the top job.
But Wales will be happy to have held on to Edwards, one of the architects of much of Wales’ success over the last decade.