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Hayward's sacking has only increased Welsh fans' regret over losing Edwards

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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After Byron Hayward became the latest departure from the Wales rugby set-up, the decision not to retain Shaun Edwards is being bemoaned once again. One win from six in 2020 and a fifth-place finish in this year’s elongated Six Nations meant a shake-up to Wayne Pivac’s staff was inevitable.

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It is the defence coach Hayward who has been the major casualty of the team’s poor form. This comes just weeks after Sam Warburton also stepped down as a technical coach and Ryan Jones resigned as performance director. 

But it is the position that Hayward held that has sparked a sense of regret among the Welsh public, as the Welsh Rugby Union spurned the chance to keep hold of his predecessor Edwards. 

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After Warren Gatland announced he would be stepping down as Wales head coach after the 2019 World Cup, Edwards could not come to an agreement with the WRU about his future and instead joined Fabien Galthie’s new-look French coaching team. 

The decision at the time was met with dismay and disbelief by fans as Edwards was – and still is – revered as one of the best defence coaches in the game. But there was also a case that there should be no vestiges of the previous era in a fresh start under Pivac. 

But after a tricky start to the Kiwi’s time with Wales, the WRU’s decision regarding Edwards has been criticised once again online. Calls are also mounting for another approach to be made for the former rugby league star, but they are hopeful wishes more than anything else. 

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France have improved monumentally over the past year and their voracious defence has all the hallmarks of a team influenced by Edwards. With one of the most promising squads in world rugby and a 2023 RWC in France, few would want to part ways with Les Bleus. 

Gethin Jenkins is set to replace Hayward in the meantime. But with Wales beginning their Autumn Nations Cup this Friday against Ireland in Dublin, there is little time to make big changes. 

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