Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac is expected to be confirmed as Wales’ new head coach in a few hours.
Warren Gatland is stepping down from the job following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
WRU chairman Gareth Davies and chief executive Martyn Phillips will appear at a press conference at 1pm UK time to “provide an update on matters relating to Welsh rugby”.
And the WRU have ramped up the anticipation on Twitter, by saying “? Waiting for 1pm…”
? Waiting for 1pm… pic.twitter.com/pk7GsIg3IB
— Welsh Rugby Union ? (@WelshRugbyUnion) July 9, 2018
The Scarlets head coach appeared to be in a two-way fight for the job with Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie.
In April Pivac revealed that he’d held informal talks with Wales, while the WRU has previously stated their intention to name Gatland’s replacement at some stage in 2018.
Pivac, who signed a Scarlets contract until at least 2020 last October, spoke about the WRU’s approach.
“There has been nothing formal, just discussions around my contract here, which I recently signed. As you would expect, I am pretty sure most coaches in Wales at the highest levels would have those conversations.”
The former policeman has been coaching in Wales since 2014, initially brought in as an assistant to Simon Easterby, before being handed the head coach role a few months later when Easterby left for Ireland. He made steady progress, a 6th place finish in 2015 was followed by a 5th in 2016 and a PRO12 title success in 2017. In 2018 they lost the PRO14 final to Leinster, who also eliminated the Welsh region from the European Champions Cup semi-finals.
He also has senior international experience with Fiji, whom he led to the 2004 Pacific Tri-Nations, while in 2005 he helped Fiji’s seven’s side to Rugby World Cup Sevens title.
Back in New Zealand he’s coached Northland, Auckland and North Harbour.
Speaking to RugbyPass earlier this season Scarlets and Wales prop Rob Evans said the speculation over Pivac’s move to Wales hadn’t been a distraction for the club.
“No, not really”, says Evans. “Obviously there has been the odd bit of banter flying about but we’re very much focused on what we’ve got to do in hand and towards the end of the season, as we want to be very successful. Nothing has really been spoken of. As soon as the media get hold of something in Wales they will make it massive”.
“I know Wayne is happy at the Scarlets at the moment, but I’m sure if Wayne did get the Welsh job he would do a good job.”
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Last month British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton said he thought the New Zealander would be a natural fit for Wales.
“He’s got them (Scarlets) playing a very similar style to Wales, a nice expansive game of rugby and he’s done very, very well for Scarlets. And not just for one season, he’s backed it up again for a few seasons now. It shows it hasn’t been a flash in the pan and something has definitely changed at the Scarlets.
“They’ve probably been recognised as the best Welsh region for quite a while now, which they weren’t going back before Wayne Pivac.
“He’s definitely established Scarlets now and they’ve achieved the most out of the Welsh regions in the past few years and they’ve done it consistently.
“They’ve gone to Ireland and been successful which has always been so tough for the regions. It’s so tough, we’ve seen that on the European stage, and they’ve managed to do that on a few occasions over the years.
“He’s definitely showed his credentials to be a candidate for an international coach.”
Warburton also acknowledged that replacing Gatland won’t be easy, he won three Six Nations and been in charge of two British and Irish Lions tours, winning in Australia before last year’s draw in New Zealand.
“He’s been absolutely massive for Wales. He’s taken Wales from perhaps being [a team] who didn’t really achieve a whole lot for perhaps a 15-, 20-year period and taken Wales into what has been one of their more successful eras really in a long time.
“He’ll be missed. When you look at his reputation when he came to Wales and when he’ll leave, it’ll be hugely enhanced and [he’s] deservedly going to be recognised as probably one of the most successful international coaches that Wales has ever had and international coaches of his era as well.”
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