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Pivac is Gatland’s successor

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THE current Scarlets boss will take over from Warren Gatland, who is scheduled to step down after the 2019 Rugby World Cup when he will have served more than 12 years at the helm.

Replacing the longest serving and most successful head coach in the history of the game in Wales has been a major priority for Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips since Gatland confirmed his decision to move on at the end of his contract in December 2019.

Pivac’s appointment is the result of a two year process undertaken by Phillips and WRU chairman Gareth Davies, which has involved meticulous research and extensive consultation, and this announcement leaves a year-long gap ahead of his start date, by design.

The 55-year-old former Fiji and Auckland boss – and one-time coaching colleague to both Graham Henry and Steve Hansen – will remain at the 2017 Guinness Pro12 winning Scarlets for the entirety of the 2018/19 season and will only officially come under WRU employment in July 2019.

Gatland, of course, continues in exclusive charge of Wales up to and throughout the RWC, but arrangements for a smooth handover can now be planned in earnest, with the distraction of speculation entirely removed.

“In Wayne Pivac, we have secured the best man for the job and we have done so rigorously and decisively to the collective benefit of all involved in Welsh rugby,” said Phillips.

“I am extremely grateful to the Scarlets for their support of this process and their chairman, Nigel Short, in particular who has been first class throughout.

“Both Wayne and Warren and their coaching teams, our international players, supporters and everyone at the Scarlets now have clarity and there is no underestimating the positive benefit to be gained from having the time to plan properly for the future.

“We have avoided the feeding frenzy that can come at the end of a RWC year and we have been meticulous in ensuring we have someone of the talent, experience, charisma and rugby acumen to do the very best possible job for Welsh rugby. The handover process is something we will plan carefully and commence in detail next summer.

“And, for the Scarlets, what coach, whether they are in Wales or anywhere around the rugby playing world, would not relish the opportunity to join a team of such rich history and proven professionalism?

“I would like to think that given the heritage of the Scarlets, their culture, passionate supporters, their track record of success and the quality of their squad that the head coach position will be one of the most sought after in rugby.

“In the meantime, it is vitally important that there are no distractions for Warren, his backroom team and his players and it is equally necessary that Wayne is able to concentrate exclusively on the Scarlets’ progression throughout the season ahead.”

Pivac will be the 23rd man to lead Wales since David Nash was appointed head coach in 1967 – a WRU panel of selectors ran the international teams before that time.

“It’s both a huge honour and a privilege to have been asked to be the next Wales coach,” said Pivac, whose impressive coaching CV includes a hat-trick of NPC titles with Auckland, before being voted New Zealand coach of the year in 2003, an international stint with Fiji – where he won the Pacific Tri-Nations (’04) and the 2005 RWC Sevens – and lifting the Guinness Pro12 trophy with the Scarlets in 2017.

“I know I’m following in the footsteps of someone who is held in extremely high regard, not only by the Welsh public, but also by the players who have played under him and I will be doing my best to protect the legacy which Warren Gatland, with the help of those players, will inevitably leave behind.

“What Martyn Phillips has achieved here is fairly unique in world sport, I have a further 12 months to dedicate my time to the Scarlets and, in the background, the necessary plans and preparations can be put in place to ensure a smooth transition after the World Cup.

“To be able to complete the process this far in advance helps the Scarlets, helps Wales and affords me the luxury of time in which to prepare in earnest for one of the biggest jobs in the world game.

“I’ll do everything in my power to reward the two men alongside me here today (Gareth Davies and Martyn Phillips) who have put their faith in me, but also to live up to the expectations of the hugely passionate and knowledgeable rugby loving Welsh public.

“It will be an almighty challenge, but one that I’m more than ready for and one that I will relish.”

WRU chairman Gareth Davies said: “You only have to look at the way the Scarlets play and their recent achievements to get excited about the prospect of Wayne Pivac coaching Wales.

“We have undertaken a hugely thorough process to make this appointment, it has been more than two years in the making and we were both impressed by Wayne throughout and by the variety of his accomplishments during a lengthy career in coaching.

“Wayne will bring the holistic approach to the job we are looking for and will be immediately ready to pick up where Warren leaves off – he offers the complete package and we are delighted to have secured his services.”

The finer details of Pivac’s transition period to Wales, succession planning at the Scarlets and the make-up of his backroom staff, will begin to be ironed out post-Wayne’s Scarlets responsibilities, with no further announcements on any of these subjects to be expected before next summer.

Pivac’s full and immediate attention will return to the Scarlets and the season ahead, with the confirmation of his appointment as the next coach of Wales being accompanied by the full backing of his current employers.

“We see Wayne’s appointment as a major and significant endorsement of the successful environment we have fostered here at the Scarlets,” said the Scarlets General Manager of Rugby Jon Daniels.

“We have been involved with this process at every stage alongside the WRU and are particularly grateful to have a full season to now work on our own succession planning for Wayne’s departure.   Obviously we are sad to see him go, but we would not, for one second, have considered standing in his way when the country came calling and our focus is on ensuring his final season in charge sees him go out on a high as we continue to plan for the future.”

Gatland is also focussing on the here and now, but the man who has won two Grand Slams, reached a Rugby World Cup semi-final and will have led Wales on more than 120 occasions by the end of his third RWC campaign in 2019, is delighted with his countryman’s appointment.

“I would like to congratulate Wayne on the appointment and the honour of being named head coach,” added Gatland.

“Martyn and Gareth have been meticulous in their search and once they decided who the best man for the job was, they have signed him up, putting any speculation to rest.

“From a Wales squad perspective, that’s all we can ask for, we can now focus on the challenge ahead and continue to build for RWC 2019 without any distractions.

“The World Cup is a key focus and Wayne’s early appointment will help us keep that focus. Additionally I’m determined to ensure that Wayne is given the best possible opportunity to succeed in this job when he starts after the World Cup and I will do everything I can to help him.

“With the announcement now public we can plan properly and ensure smooth transition to benefit the future of Welsh rugby.”

Sport

Successful weekend for Croft and O’Sullivan

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CARDIGAN ABC’s Garan Croft was team captain as a Wales boxing team made a successful weekend trip to Ireland, picking up a unanimous points victory over Mathew Tyndall, a six-times Irish national champion at New Ross Youth Centre, County Wexford.

The bout began in lively fashion with both boxers trying to hold the centre of the ring, but midway through the opening round the Crymych teenager had taken control.

Croft, who was landing the cleaner and harder shots, gave Tyndall a standing count in the third round en route to a convincing triumph.

Cardigan’s successful weekend continued at Dagenham, Essex, on Sunday where Fishguard schoolboy Mikey O’Sullivan was part of a Wales Select team who took on Repton, the famous East End club.

Pitted against Albie Smith, O’Sullivan came out with all guns blazing matching the Londoner punch for punch in a very even round.

But in the second the Welsh boy’s superior boxing skills saw him get on top with an excellent display of slipping and counter-punching.

The third round was pretty even with both boxers throwing everything they had, yet O’Sullivan was awarded a split decision victory following his mastery during the second round in what was a great result in Repton’s own back yard.

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Sport

Pembroke hammer Tumble

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PEMBROKE put in one of their best displays of the season on Saturday (Oct 13) as they beat Tumble 56-8.

Tumble travelled from Carmarthenshire with Storm Callum in full force and there was no let up as they faced a storm of another kind as Pembroke ran riot.

Dan Colley got the home side going early on with the first try of the game before Mitchell Jones replied with a penalty for Tumble.

Dom Colman then went over for Pembroke’s second try but the conversion was missed and the home side held a 12-3 lead.

Tumble came forward again and from a lineout they worked the ball left but were then penalised for holding on. Possession switched hands on a couple of occasions before Pembroke almost scored their third try.

From a Tumble scrum, Pembroke overpowered them, pushing them back and Toby Smith picked the ball up and headed for the line. He passed to Fraser James but he dropped the ball as he was going over and the ball was knocked on.

However, they weren’t to be denied their third try as Sam Smith burst through near the posts to touch down giving Toby Smith an ease conversion.

Pembroke then earned their fourth try and a bonus point after good work from Luke Hartland set the ground running for Colley’s second try of the game. Smith then added the extras in front of the posts for a 26-3 lead.

Tumble looked to respond towards the end of the first half when Pembroke were penalised for a tackle off the ball but they were unable to take advantage as the home side kept them out.

At the start of the second half Pembroke came forward and an advantage was played for a high tackle. When it seemed there was no way through the ball was dropped back for Smith who sent a drop goal through the posts.

Colman then went over for his second try before Tom Lewis went over for another two tries.

Fraser James then did get his try and Smith again added the extra two points.

Steffan Price pulled a late try back for Tumble but it did little to affect the final score as Pembroke held on for an emphatic win with Smith claiming a deserved try at the end.

Pembroke now sit fourth in the table and on Saturday (Oct 20) they travel to sixth placed Tycroes.

Tumble have just one win to their name so far this season and on Saturday they are at home to Pontarddulais.

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Robins breeze past Lawrenny

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PENNAR Robins proved too strong for Lawrenny on Saturday (Oct 13) as they scored ten times to book their place in the third round of the Senior Cup.

Despite the weather conditions the Bush Camp pitch was in excellent condition and the home side dominated for large parts of the game.

Jason Donohoe had an early chance for the Robins but he sent his free kick over the bar.

Josh Clark went on a good run and burst through the challenge of a Lawrenny attacker and although the ball found the back of the net, the ball was deemed to have gone out of play before Clark put his cross in.

With nine minutes gone Donohoe found Sam Southcott but his effort was saved.

Lawrenny won a free kick and Ryan Morton sent the ball into the box which Patrick Elliot headed towards goal but Stuart James was able to make the save.

Connor Roberts then came close to scoring in spectacular fashion but his curling effort was tipped over by Lawrenny keeper Danny Harries.

Nick Willis then saw a shot saved at the front post and he then also saw an acrobatic effort saved as the Robins continued to look for the opening goal.

Harries had to be alert as Donohoe’s cross looked to be going in with the wind but on 22 minutes the Robins finally made the breakthrough.

Southcott played the ball through for Ben Adams on the left and he shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Mikey Powell crossed into the box and Southcott was in the right place at the back post to tap the ball home.

Roberts and Willis combined with a neat one-two but the former sent his effort wide of the post.

The Robins added a third on the half hour mark and they continued to show their dominance with a further seven goals.

Adams and Southcott both completed their hat tricks while Tom Grimwood, Connor Roberts, Scott Trayhern and Luke Phillips all got on the scoresheet.

It was an excellent win for Pennar who must wait and see who they will play in the third round after other games were called off.

On Saturday (Oct 20), Lawrenny are again in cup action as they take on Hundleton in the first round of the Second Division Cup.

Pennar will return to league action as they take on local rivals Lamphey.

Pennar: Stuart James, Josh Clark, Luke Phillips, Ross Lascelles, Mikey Powell, Tom Grimwood, Connor Roberts, Ben Adams, Sam Southcott, Jason Donohoe, Nick Willis. Subs: Jack Phillips, Rhys Lucas, Scott Trayhern.

Lawrenny: Danny Harries, Edward Merriman, James Durbridge, Adam Jenkins, Ryan Morton, Tom Lewis, Patrick Elliot, Matt Lewis, Harry Thomas, Owen James, Tom Cole. Subs: Kieron Johnson, Phil Cole, Sam Davies.

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