By Peter Jackson
Wayne Pivac is in talks with Wales about succeeding Warren Gatland as head coach after next year’s World Cup.
The 55-year-old architect of Scarlets’ rise as serious contenders for Europe’s top prize has had one meeting with the WRU after the PRO14 champions had given their permission for a formal approach.
A second Pivac interview will take place next month with Wales planning to name their new head coach during the summer. The same interview process will also apply to another New Zealander, Dave Rennie.
Dai Young removed his name in the New Year, preferring to stay at Wasps. Chris Boyd, the 59-year-old Kiwi then running the Hurricanes, has also opted for the English domestic scene at Northampton.
While the Union’s kingmakers have been urged to reinforce their wish list by looking no further than the top of the Top 14 and adding Montpellier’s former Scotland coach Vern Cotter, Pivac’s stock has been rising with every victory achieved by the Scarlets.
Their stylish emergence as Celtic champions, secured by a Dublin double against Leinster and Munster, has since been translated into Europe.
A first semi-final for eleven years as due reward for the ultimately decisive beating of La Rochelle has renewed hope of a Welsh team reaching the Champions’ Cup final for the first time.
Pivac’s coaching team – Stephen Jones, Byron Hayward and Ioan Cunningham – have also enhanced their claims to do the same for Wales. They have all extended their contracts at Parc y Scarlets until May 2020.
“The WRU asked us, as a matter of courtesy whether we minded if they talked to Wayne,’’ a Scarlets official told The Rugby Paper. “We said: ‘That’s fine.’
“There was no point fighting it. Wayne has really bought into the Scarlets’ culture and that is integral to the wider Welsh culture.’’
As part of the regional teams’ agreement with the WRU, the Scarlets have no option but to release Pivac should Wales decide he is the man to succeed Gatland when his contract runs out in 18 months’ time.
The Scarlets’ exhilarating 15-man style has often been in stark contrast to a Wales team unable to reproduce the same kind of game except when they picked the Scarlets’ back division almost en masse against Scotland at the start of the Six Nations.
Pivac arrived in west Wales four years ago as assistant coach under Simon Easterby, taking overall charge when the former flanker became Ireland forwards’ coach under Joe Schmidt.
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