Welsh Rugby Union CEO Steve Phillips has praised the progress Wales have made under Wayne Pivac, outlining how the WRU didn’t consider adopting a knee-jerk reaction when results in the autumn weren’t going well and some fans wanted the New Zealander sacked.   

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Wales have since bounced back, winning the Guinness Six Nations title and coming within a last-gasp France try of clinching the Grand Slam. It has left Phillips pleased with how the WRU managed the sticky November period where Pivac came under-fire.

Writing in the latest WRU weekly status update, Phillips, whose position as CEO was made permanent last week following an initial caretaker stint, said: “Wayne Pivac has the 2023 Rugby World Cup firmly in his sights and a comprehensive plan for Wales to arrive there at the peak of our powers with the full backing of the Welsh Rugby Union to achieve that aim.

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“We meet after every campaign to discuss how we are tracking against any plan. We met after the Autumn Nations Cup. That campaign, as stated publicly by management at the time, was about giving players the opportunity to experience Test rugby and to give management the opportunity to see how they fared. 

“Wayne was equally unambiguous about his distinction between the autumn and the Guinness Six Nations championship where we would be playing tournament rugby and results mattered. If silverware was the only measure then, of course, winning both the Triple Crown and the tournament itself can be viewed as ‘mission accomplished’.

“It is vitally important that we assess our progress in a considered way. In professional sport it is possible to go from hero to zero and back again in a fortnight. To avoid knee-jerk reactions we measure progress against short- and long-term goals. Wayne, the management and the players are, by any measure, progressing extremely well.

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“Winning the championship this year was an obvious short-term goal, but we have been equally impressed by what was achieved this autumn when the stall was set to blood new players, improve strength in depth and bed in a new and varied approach to tactics and game plans.

“Wayne and his management team and players have delivered. I know I speak on behalf of the board and everyone at the WRU in congratulating them on their achievements and we look forward to following their continued progress on the road to France 2023.”

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