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WRU statement: Wales assistant Gareth Williams quits for Scarlets

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Wales assistant coach Gareth Williams has quit the Wayne Pivac set-up, joining Scarlets as their defence coach after working in the contact area for the national team. His departure follows last month’s three-Test series against the Springboks where the Welsh secured their first-ever Test win over the South Africans in the southern hemisphere.

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It was June 20 when RugbyPass first reported that the change was in the pipeline and a WRU statement on Thursday read: “The 40-year-old Williams started working as part of Wales head coach Wayne Pivac’s coaching team during the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup and 2021 title-winning Guinness Six Nations campaigns.

“He combined the role with his previous position with the Welsh Rugby Union as head of transitional players and head coach of Wales men’s U20s before being appointed on a full-time basis in June 2021.

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“Prior to this, Williams spent a decade coaching Wales Sevens on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, during which time he helped his country win Rugby World Cup Sevens, as well as assisting Team GB in claiming silver at the Rio Olympics.”

Williams said: “I’m incredibly proud to have been able to work with the men’s national team over the past two years. This is such a great group of talented and hard-working players and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s not an easy decision to leave and I’d like to thank Wayne, the other coaches and staff for all their support during my time with the squad.”

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Pivac added: “I’d like to thank Gareth for his work over the last two years. It’s a shame to lose one of the coaching team just over a year out to the Rugby World Cup, but I understand Gareth’s decision and am pleased for him. He is not going far and it will be great having a good young coach moving from the national team into the regional system to further their development. This is also an important element in increasing alignment between international and domestic rugby in Wales.”

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Williams will take over the defence coach role from Hugh Hogan, the ex-Leinster coach who leaves the Scarlets after one season. He joins head coach Dwayne Peel, forwards coach Ben Franks and Emyr Phillips, whose position as interim contact area coach has been made permanent, in the coaching team. The appointment of a replacement for backs coach Dai Flanagan, who has joined Dragons RFC as head coach, is ongoing.

In a separate Scarlets statement, Williams said: “It’s exciting to be a part of the Scarlets’ future. There has been a natural association throughout my career and a natural crossover of work with the Scarlets in my roles across the sevens, U20s and senior squad, as well as working regularly with the transition players over the last few years. Being able to work with Dwayne, Ben and Emyr as coaches, as well as the wider management team, towards the future is hugely exciting.”

Scarlets boss Peel added: “We are thrilled to welcome Gareth back to the Scarlets. He is someone I know well and who came through at Stradey, firstly as a player and also as a development coach with us. He has had extensive coaching experience with the Wales set-up and will fit smoothly into our coaching philosophy as our preparations continue ahead of the new season.”

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