Rugby World Cup 2011: Coach Shaun Edwards ponders Wales future

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards makes a point during training
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards makes a point during training

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards is unsure if he will remain in the role after they return from the World Cup.

Edwards was bitterly disappointed to see Wales lose 9-8 to France in Saturday's semi-final.

He will be part of the backroom staff when they face Australia in Friday's third-place play-off.

But the Wasps head coach and former rugby league star said: "My contract is up at the end of the tournament and I'm not too sure what the future holds."

Edwards and attack coach Robert Howley joined Warren Gatland's regime in January 2008 and enjoyed immediate success with a Six Nations Grand Slam that year.

Their arrival came in the wake of Wales' 2007 World Cup pool exit at Fiji's hands, which resulted in coach Gareth Jenkins being sacked.

Wasps agreed to Edwards being involved with Wales during tournaments and tours.

Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis indicated that they were keen to retain Edwards, but admitted the former Wigan player's situation was complicated.

"I have to be very respectful here," Lewis said. "Shaun's principal, primary employer is Wasps.

"Four years ago I had a very long and protracted negotiation, an understandably difficult negotiation with Wasps to get Shaun on release to us. Because that is the relationship, he's on release to us.

"So I have to respect that relationship and any discussion has to take place with Wasps.

"But Shaun, we know, has been outstanding and that is recognised by everyone."

Edwards joined another former Wasps boss, Sir Ian McGeechan, for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2009.

Gatland and Howley were also among the coaching staff on a tour in which the Lions restored their competitive reputation in a 2-1 series loss to the Springboks.

But as the 2011 World Cup draws to a close, Edwards has been linked with 2015 tournament hosts Englandexternal-link, whose unhappy tournament ended in quarter-final defeat by France, following a series of off-field incidents that prompted a series of investigations.

Edwards added: "I'm not in a position to adjudicate what my future is in international rugby so it's important that I just step back, reflect and first and foremost decide whether Wales don't want me or whether my term as coach has come to an end or whatever.

"It's really important - someone told me once "never make a decision when you're emotional" and obviously the emotions are still running incredibly high at the moment.

"So it's important that we step back, reflect and we'll take it form there."

Howley and forwards coach Robin McBryde are in a similar contractual position to Edwards.

In McBryde's absence in New Zealand, another former Wales hooker, Garin Jenkins, has taken a part-time, short-term role as a scrum coach and player mentor with the Scarlets.

McBryde became part of the Wales coaching panel during Jenkins' reign and remained in position under Gatland, as did kicking coach Neil Jenkins.

In October 2010 Gatland signed a contract extension taking him through to the 2015 World Cup that England will host.

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will also host some 2015 tournament games.

Although Gatland's stock has never been higher in his native New Zealand, Lewis is confident that his future for at least the next four years is with Wales.

"Long-term planning has been at the heart of everything we do on and off the field, so Warren is contracted to us until 2015," Lewis added.

"We have a player agreement until 2016 beyond the next World Cup, and I'm confident this group of people will stick together because they've worked so hard to get to this position.

"I don't see anyone walking away from this particular ebvironment, this particular group."

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