Welsh coaches at the Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup will have an abundance of Welsh coaches at, working hard behind the scenes. Some are well known, others have a slightly more obscure role.

Robert Rees takes a look at the Rugby World Cup’s Welsh coaching contingency. 

Rugby World Cup’s Welsh coaching contingency

Let’s start off with the obvious Welsh team setup.

Neil Jenkins – Wales Skills Coach

Wales’ highest points scorer in test match history and third all-time rugby union points scorer.

A legend down at Sardis Road where he amassed over 3000 points then went on to represent Cardiff and the Celtic Warriors before they disbanded.

He played full back during the 1997 Lions tour and became Wales’ skills coach in 2004.

Robin McBryde – Wales Forwards Coach

Born in Bangor he moved down south joining up with Swansea RFC as a player and went on to represent both Llanelli and the Scarlets before calling quits on his playing career due to injury.

His coaching career began at the Scarlets U18 team before becoming the Welsh forwards coach.

He was caretaker boss during a two-game North American tour in 2009

Rob Howley – Wales Backs Coach

The former Bridgend, Cardiff and Wasps scrum half, who was selected for both the 1997 and 2001 Lions tours took over the Wales backline in 2008 after a spell with Cardiff Blues.

He took over the reigns during the 2012 tour of Australia after Warren Gatland injured his ankle and once again in the autumn of 2016 following Gatland’s appointment as the 2017 Lions tour coach.

Chris Jenkins – Russia Physiotherapist

The former London Welsh physio now tops up Russia’s backroom staff, under the helm of fellow Welsh coach Lyn Jones – More on him later.

Chris graduated from the University of Wales, College of Medicine in 2000. During his career he’s worked with Welsh Rugby teams, American Football teams and Taekwondo.

Will Precious – Russia Performance Analyst

Precious will join forces with his former boss Lyn Jones to prepare for the Bears’ trip to Japan 2019.

After graduating with a sports science degree from Brunel University, the analyst started out with Jones at the Ospreys in the first season of regional rugby.

He worked with the Wales age-grade teams before heading to Rodney Parade to work for his home region.

Mark Bennett – Russia S&C Coach

Bristol Bears’ Head of Performance and former Ospreys and WRU employee Mark Bennett will join up with Precious at the World Cup to work as Russia’s S&C Coach.

Specializing in Sports science and coaching he’ll look at add his Welsh Rugby qualities to the Bears.

Shaun Connor – Russia Backs Coach

The former Ospreys and Dragons coach, who also coached the Ospreys U20 will head up the Russian attack in Japan.

Tasked with bringing the Bears to only their second World Cup he’ll be working under Lyn Jones and a whole host of Welsh talent in a hope of success.

Lyn Jones – Russia Head Coach

Lyn Jones’ coaching career has seen him work with a host of Welsh club sides from Treorchy to Ebbw Vale, the regions of the Ospreys and the Dragons, London Welsh and with Namibian side Welwitschias.

He took over the role of Russia in 2016 and is hoping to make the most of limited resources.

Kingsley Jones – Canada Head Coach

Having led Russia through the 2011 Rugby World Cup as a consultant he knows what it’s like to coach at the biggest tournament.

A coach at Doncaster, Sale Sharks, London Welsh and the Dragons he’s been applying his trade with Canada since 2017.

Gruff Rees – Canada Backs Coach

He’s joined up with Kingsley Jones and Canada on secondment from the Cardiff Blues. The Blues’ Academy Manager landed at the capital region following his departure from the Ospreys.

Having spent 13 years at the Ospreys – six as Backs Coach – he’s got plenty of experience in coaching world class talent.

Huw Bevan – USA S&C Coach

Bevan started out with the English Cricket team before joining the Dragons setup in 2016 as an Elite Performance Manager where he spent almost four years at Rodney Parade.

Linking up with USA in 2018, he retains his role at World Rugby as a High Performance Consultant.

Phil Davies – Namibia Head Coach

Davies began his coaching career back in 1996 with Leeds Tykes, whom he stayed with for a decade.

He’s spent time in his native country with Cardiff, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets and the Wales U20s.

He became Namibia’s Technical Advisor in 2014 and became their head coach a year later.

Wayne Proctor – Namibia S&C Coach

Having studied sports science at Pembrokeshire College Proctor held the role of Scarlets Fitness Coach for many years before working with Wales U20s and Sevens.

He joins Davies’ team as they bid to end their 19-game losing streak at Rugby World Cups.

Proctor’s playing career sadly holds no World Cup victories but he’ll be wanting to set the record straight.

Rugby World Cup
COBHAM, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 18: Wayne Proctor of Namibia poses for a portrait during the Namibia Rugby World Cup 2015 squad photo call on September 18, 2015 in Cobham, England. (Photo by Matt Lewis – World Rugby via Getty Images/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Sam Pickford – Namibia Performance Analyst

Hailing from Llantwhit Major Pickford has taken up the Performance Analyst role with Namibia on a temporary basis before returning to his full time job at the WRU.

His Rugby World Cup duties include “filming and coding training; filming, coding (team and individual), stats reports and reviewing matches; producing individual player profiles and databases.

“Training of intern analysts. Instructing coding, filming, stats reports and databasing.”

Rugby World Cup coaches with Welsh Rugby link

They may not be Welsh by birth but they have worked within Welsh Rugby. Here are some familiar names also going to Japan.

Danny Wilson – Scotland Forwards Coach

The former Cardiff Blues head man picked up this gig August 2018. He arrived with eight-years’ elite-level coaching experience in the Guinness PRO14.

A successful three-year spell as Cardiff Blues Head Coach, which followed two years with Dragons (2010 to 2012) and two years at Scarlets (2012-2014).

Simon Easterby – Ireland Forwards Coach

A former Ireland captain, Simon played 65 times for Ireland between 2000 and 2008 and was a member of the British & Irish Lions tour squad in 2005.

Easterby played with Llanelli Scarlets and became part of the coaching setup on his retirement. He served as head coach from 2012 until joining the Ireland set up.

Dale McIntosh – Namibia Defence Coach

Known for being a ruthless player for Pontypridd, he joined the coaching staff at Sardis Road in 2007.

He then made a shift after four consecutive league titles and numerous WRU Cups to the Cardiff Blues for two years before moving to Merthyr, where he remains today.

He’ll return to The Wern following his Rugby World Cup duties.

Shaun Edwards – Wales Defence Coach

Born in Wigan and having spent the majority of his playing career playing rugby league. He was a schoolboy captain in both league and union before a glittering career at Wigan began.

He joined Wasps in 2001 and remained there for a decade, linking up with Warren Gatland along with the way before joining the Kiwi’s team.

Paul ‘Bobby’ Stridgeon – Wales S&C Coach

Paul joined Wales ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup as a Consultant Head of Physical Performance. This was following some world renowned work at Toulon.

He’s since turned Wales into one of the fittest teams in the world and he now manages the physical performance department.

Warren Gatland – Wales Head Coach

The Kiwi is bowing out of his record tenure at Wales following the Japan Rugby World Cup.

He’ll have surpassed 120 tests with them at that stage and will return to Cardiff one last time to face off against his successor as the Barbarians coach.

Having spent time in Ireland, Wales and England he is set to go down south where he’ll join the Chiefs in 2020.

Gatland’s four-year deal with the Super Rugby side includes a release clause for him to honour his commitment to handle the British and Irish Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa.



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