An outstanding season with the Scarlets has seen Wayne Pivac named as successor to Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
The announcement has been confirmed by the Welsh Rugby Union after Peter Jackson reported in The Rugby Paper on Sunday that the Kiwi and Stephen Jones were set to take their inventive ways with the Scarlets to the national scene.
“Wayne Pivac will be the next Wales coach,” read a WRU statement confirming the move for the Scarlets honcho.
“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.”
The appointment concludes an extensive two-year search by the WRU which saw Dave Rennie rival Pivac as favourite for the job.
This follows a season where Scarlets produced arguably the most watchable attacking rugby in the northern hemisphere to reach the final of the PRO14 and the semi-finals of the Champions Cup.
Pivac’s step up to replace Gatland, who will have spent 12 years at the helm come what may in Japan, should be a seamless one given the make up of recent Wales squads relying heavily on Scarlets players.
For their tour of the Americas in June, 13 Scarlets players were represented in Gatland’s 31-man squad, more than any other Welsh region.
“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 WRU chief executive Martyn 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.
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“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.
“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.”
As reported in TRP, details are being worked on a deal for Stephen Jones to join Pivac as his assistant, meaning Rob Howley’s time would be brought to an end.
The WRU revealed it is unlikely to make any further announcements on who will form Pivac’s backroom staff ‘before next summer’, when the Scarlets season has been concluded.
Warren Gatland has been kept abreast of developments throughout the search for his successor, and had a message for his fellow New Zealander 15 months away from the World Cup.
“I would like to congratulate Wayne on the appointment and the honour of being named head coach,” added Gatland.
“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.”