Welsh Rugby Union launches search for new women's head coach

Martyn Phillips and Ryan Jones on the changes to the women's game in Wales.

The Welsh Rugby Union has begun searching for a new women's head coach to lead the side through until the 2021 World Cup and 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Rowland Phillips left his role officially in March 2020 after missing all of Wales' 2019 autumn matches and this year's Six Nations.

Phillips was replaced by Chris Horsman, Geraint Lewis and Gareth Wyatt.

Wales lost four games, including a 66-7 defeat by England, before the Scotland match was postponed due to Covid-19.

The new head coach of the senior women's national programme will take charge of Wales Women Sevens as well as the 15-a-side team affairs.

The WRU is also looking for a physical performance lead and performance analyst for the female programme.

It is hoped the three roles will be filled by autumn 2020 to build up to the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and the sevens tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Despite the union facing large financial losses due to the outbreak of coronavirus, they say they remain committed to improving women's rugby.

"We have approved plans to grow the women's game and to strengthen its performance side," said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

"Covid-19 has impacted those plans like all areas of our organisation, but we have taken the conscious decision to continue with planned investments.

"We hope this will allow us to make progress in closing the gap with the top nations in women's rugby."

Rowland Phillips and daughter Carys
Rowland Phillips and daughter Carys who has won 51 caps for Wales, but was not selected for this year's Six Nations

WRU performance director Ryan Jones is responsible for the women's game in Wales.

"We are keen to talk to professional coaches with the ability to be world-leading within women's rugby," said Jones.

"This is an exciting period for the women's game globally with the Rugby World Cup and Commonwealth Games around the corner."

Jones says a candidate with experience in the women's game would be desirable but it is not a perquisite, and admitted they will consider women coaches.

"That would be a huge step forward and we want to make sure we are inclusive in our recruitment approach," said Jones.

"There is a growing female coaching pool around the world and here in Wales someone like Rachel Taylor is a very exciting coach."

The successful candidate will replace the departed Rowland Phillips who was absent for most of the season in unexplained circumstances.

Jones insisted Phillips departed in March of his own accord and says Phillips' daughter Carys was still in the selection equation after the former hooker and captain did not feature for Wales in the Six Nations.

"Rowland decided to seek other opportunities and he left to pursue that," said Jones.

"The door's not closed (on Carys). We'll be reviewing selection at the appropriate timing.

"We have a new coaching group coming and selection is always subjective and there will always be debates.

"We probably have more depth than we have had for a long time."

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Unlike the set-up in England, Wales does not currently have professional players or a top-flight domestic side, with many of their international players featuring for English clubs in the Premier 15s league.

The WRU says it is working more closely with the English clubs ahead of plans to produce two "super clubs" in Wales.

"In the short term, the intention is our performance players will train and play for Premier 15s clubs," said WRU women and girls general manager Charlotte Wathan.

"Longer term we aim to establish two high-performance centres in Wales, hopefully leading to the development of two competitive super clubs.

"We know we have talented players in Wales and we believe these measures will help to further harness that talent and create an environment which increases competition for places in the programme.

"We are committed to increasing female participation numbers and raising standards at all levels of the game for women and girls in Wales.

"Part of the role of the new staff will also be to raise coaching and conditioning standards across the female game in Wales."

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