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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

Ammanford sign Kurtis Marsh from Lawrenny

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LAWRENNY’S Kurtis Marsh will play for Ammanford Cricket Club in the 2022 season after the two clubs agreed a deal.

Marsh was one of Lawrenny’s stand out performers in Division 1 of the Pembrokeshire League this year.

He scored a number of important centuries and fifties as his club just missed out on securing the league title.

In total he scored 1070 runs in 15 innings while his highest score was 140 not out.

He was the Division’s highest scorer by just over 200 runs and was unbeaten in five innings.

On Twitter, Lawrenny Cricket Club said: “Absolutely gutted to lose Kurtis Marsh to Ammanford but he absolutely deserves this opportunity to play at a higher level. An unbelievable player and a top, top bloke. Go and smash it up there Kurt!!”

Marsh will now look forward to testing himself in Division 1 of the South Wales Premier Cricket League.

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Sport

Carew and Hakin earn big wins in West Wales Cup

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CAREW and Hakin United were big winners on Saturday (Oct 9) as they booked their places in round two of the West Wales Cup.

Carew travelled to Neath Premier Division side Cilfrew Rovers and it didn’t take them long to settle as James Hinchcliffe scored in the opening minute.

Cilfrew’s task became ever harder three minutes later as Adam Muskett scored to put his side in a strong position.

Matthew Evans pulled a goal back for the Rovers after 16 minutes but with five to go until half time Carew scored their third through Sam Christopher.

Muskett and Hinchcliffe scored in quick succession in the second half to all but seal the win for the Rooks.

Goals continued to come as Muskett completed his hat trick before Shaun Whitfield, a Dylan Morgan penalty and two from sub Jack Christopher took Carew’s score into double figures.

Muskett then got his fourth of the game to make it 11-1 to Carew.

Hakin also made the trip to Neath to face Division 1 side Resolven and, like Carew, they did not have to wait long for the first goal of the game.

It came from Justin Harding after four minutes and it was soon 2-0 as Jaden Chapman scored.

Ben Aldred then scored two goals in the space of two minutes, both assisted by Ryan Wilson, to effectively win the game for the visitors.

Harding added his second and Hakin’s fifth shortly before half time.

Twenty minutes into the second half, the Vikings added a sixth as sub Laurie Haworth found the back of the net.

Aldred and Chapman added to the scoring before Shane Walsh scored with three minutes to go to seal a 9-0 win.

Kilgetty bowed out of the competition as they were beaten 4-2 by Giants Grave. St Ishmaels were also sent packing after they were beaten 7-3 by CKSV.

Merlins Bridge’s game away at Treboeth was postponed because of a positive covid-19 case amongst one of the Neath teams’ players.

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Sport

Saints go through to round two

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ST Clears booked their place in the second round of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Oct 9) as they beat Llangyfelach 3-0.

The Saints started the game slowly with most of the squad having been at captain Danny Peters’ wedding the day before.

Swansea Senior League Division 2 side Llangyfelach hit the post early on in what was their only real chance of the first half.

The Saints had quite a few chances to take the lead as Steve Thomas hit the bar with a good header from Ben John.

They slowly got on top and and they finally took the lead when the Llangyfelach keeper spilled a corner and Kyran Lewis nodded in from close range.

The second half was tight with more chances coming for the visitors but it was also heated at times with a number of yellow cards shown.

The second goal for the Saints when Nick squire hit a 30 yard effort from outside the box into the top corner, assisted by Martin Thomas.

Shortly before full time, the home side had Michael Matwychuk sent off for an apparent off the ball elbow.

Nick squire scored his second of the game from close range not long after to seal the victory.

The Saints’ reward for their win is a home tie against Felinfoel in the second round.

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