Wales want to hold talks with outgoing Shaun Edwards

Grand Slam champions’ defence coach revealed he is yet to sign contract with Wigan

Shaun Edwards celebrates Wales’ Grand Slam victory with Jonathan Davies. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Shaun Edwards celebrates Wales’ Grand Slam victory with Jonathan Davies. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Wales want to hold talks with Shaun Edwards, the Grand Slam champions’ defence coach, after his move back to rugby league was put in doubt when he revealed he had not signed a contract with Wigan.

Wales’s triumph owed much to the defence masterminded by Edwards who is due to leave the national set-up along with the head coach, Warren Gatland, after the World Cup in Japan.

Gatland’s successor, Wayne Pivac, has yet to announce his defence coach but it is expected to be Byron Hayward, who is part of his staff at the Scarlets.

“The defence coach is down to Wayne,” the Welsh Rugby Union chief executive, Martyn Phillips, said. “One of the reasons we appointed him early was that he would have the luxury of time to look at the coaching team he wanted. I know he had a conversation with Shaun early on and was told about the potential job at Wigan.

“Wayne wanted to take his time and my understanding was that Shaun had signed for Wigan. Then I read at the weekend that he did not have a contract and I spoke to Shaun on Monday. I told him he was a great coach and someone Wales would always have a conversation with.

“He has gone on holiday and we will pick up when he gets back. If he is open to other things, and I do not know where he is with Wigan, we would want to talk with him.”

Phillips was speaking for the first time since Wales’s bid for the grand slam was buffeted by a falling-out among the regions. It has now been agreed the four regions will carry on as they were and their playing budgets for next season have been agreed. That means a proposed merger between the Scarlets and the Ospreys has been scrapped.

“I won’t say much about the merger because I do not want to put fuel on the fire,” Phillips said. “The idea was explored and the Scarlets and the Ospreys did not pursue it. I thought that to comment on it at the time would be disrespectful to the Wales players and what they were trying to achieve.

“I did speak to a number of senior players in the changing room after the Scotland game and apologised to them. The players had to dig deep and perform despite a major distraction and they came through.

“I would rather the wobble had not happened but if anything it bound the players tighter. I hope the waters will be calmer at the World Cup.”

Phillips said Wales would take their time before responding to World Rugby’s plan to set up a Nations League in 2022. Unions have until April 5th to agree to due diligence and they have other offers to consider with private equity companies bidding for a stake in the Six Nations and some looking to back a tournament involving the top nations in both hemispheres.

“It is good World Rugby has grabbed this,” said Phillips. “The calendar could be run better, such as the autumn internationals, and it is difficult to see having 12 more years of the same. The Six Nations feel the need to make the game sustainable globally: compared to football, rugby is overly reliant on far too few countries. We have to find a way of growing it.

“We had the detail of World Rugby’s deal last week and we are working on it. A lot of our main commercial inventory would be tied up in it and we will take as long as we need to understand how the offer compares to what we could do through our own means. We have various other suitors interested in working with the Six Nations or potentially all the tier one nations.

“Of all the decisions we have to make this is the biggest one. Why would you not be open to the idea? £5 billion sounds a lot but you have to break it down over five years. With a private equity deal comes the issue of control and what you are essentially doing with it is forward-selling your profit. It looks attractive, but it will not be as attractive in four years. It has to be much more if you take that route.” - Guardian service

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