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Former Wayne Pivac assistant returns to Welsh set-up

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

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Former Wales defence coach Byron Hayward has been named as the new Wales Men under-20 head coach a year after parting ways with Wayne Pivac.

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The two-time Wales international stepped down from the Welsh coaching staff after a disappointing Autumn Nations Cup in 2020, and worked as a technical adviser for Canada over the summer during their internationals against England and Wales.

Alongside Hayward, World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Liza Burgess has also been appointed as Wales Women under-18 head coach on a part-time basis, becoming full-time in June after leaving her role as Worcester Warriors forwards coach.

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“I’m really looking forward to taking on this new role,” Hayward said.

“Having coached Wales U20 a few years back I can’t wait to get going as when I look back on my coaching career, many of my most enjoyable times were coaching the U20s because there’s nothing more satisfying than helping players achieve their dreams of playing for their country.

“There is something unbelievably satisfying about playing a part in a player’s journey, it’s all about helping them realise their dreams because at 19, the sky’s the limit.
“It’s going to be massively beneficial to the pathway to have a seamless transition between the U18s and U20s. I feel this is going to be a crucial benefit to Welsh rugby as we move forward.”

Burgess said: “I’m very excited about this new role. It’s a tremendous opportunity for young girls in Wales that aspire to play international rugby to have a clear pathway right through to the senior game.

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“We have a blank canvas to grow the elite pathway for girls aged 16 to 20 and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. My first job is to speak to the Regions, the WRU community team and coaches who have been delivering the skills development centres over the last couple of months and put plans in place to set up an U18 regional and national programme.

“I’ve coached talented players for a long time, both at an academy level and within the Allianz Premier 15s. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed coaching some of the best players in the world game at Gloucester-Hartpury and Worcester Warriors but developing young players who could represent Wales in the future is massive for me.

“There is so much Welsh talent, not just in Wales but throughout the UK and beyond. We need to capture and develop that talent and give the players the support and opportunity to be the best athletes they can be and that is very exciting.”

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