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WRU appoints former Wales wing Nigel Walker as performance director

Nigel Walker /Getty Images

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Former Wales wing and Olympic athlete Nigel Walker has been named as the new performance director of the Welsh Rugby Union.


The 58-year-old will take up the post after 11 years as national director at the English Institute of Sport.

Walker represented Great Britain in the 110 metres hurdles at the 1984 Olympics before switching to rugby union and going on to earn 17 Test caps in the 1990s. He played his club rugby with Cardiff, where he recently took up a board position.

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Since retiring, Walker has also worked for the Welsh Institute of Sport and spent 10 years with the BBC.

He has also served as a board member of UK Sport, chaired its major events panel and been on its audit committee.

WRU chief executive Steve Phillips said: “Nigel was the stand-out candidate in an extremely strong field from an effective process and we are delighted to welcome him back to the Welsh Rugby Union as our new performance director.

“Nigel knows all about the importance of performing under pressure and skills transfer, in particular drawing on his international career in rugby and athletics, and delivering change in high performance environments.


“He has an intimate working knowledge of Welsh sport, and Welsh rugby in particular, and his experience will prove a significant asset for our game.”

Walker, who was awarded an OBE in 2019, will have a wide-ranging role overseeing the game at various levels.

Walker said: “This is a job that is very much close to my heart and I am delighted to accept the challenge.

“Rugby holds a special place in the hearts of Welsh people everywhere. The passion that exists for the game is self-evident and I take on this role mindful of the fact that, with that level of interest, there is a responsibility to ensure the performance end of Welsh rugby builds on the solid foundations of the community game.


“A huge part of the attraction of this job is the breadth and scope of the role. Short term, two challenges I look forward to are the development of the women’s game and working collaboratively on a performance strategy that works for the whole of the professional male game in Wales. In addition, I very much look forward to working closely with (national men’s coach) Wayne Pivac and his team.

“I will be using all of the experience I have gathered over more than 30 years in and around the game both on and off the field and I very much relish the opportunity to do so.”

The WRU has confirmed Walker will relinquish his position on the Cardiff board when he takes up his new role. His start date is yet to be confirmed.


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