The Wayne Pivac era with Wales will host no remnants of the glory years of the past decade after defence coach Shaun Edwards confirmed he will leave the WRU.
Edwards now appears destined to join France as defence coach, though no official comment has been made regarding his next move.
TRP revealed in our 21 April edition Wasps had made an attempt to take advantage of sticky negotiations between Edwards and the WRU.
But Edwards is determined to stay in the international scene, having pushed for a three-year contract to stay with Wales.
The Rugby World Cup in Japan will be the last hurrah for a man who, like attack coach Rob Howley and forwards coach Robin McBryde, have formed the spine behind Gatland’s success.
With Grand Slam winners Wales sitting in their highest ever World Rugby ranking of second, Edwards said: “After more than 10 years with Wales this has been an incredibly difficult decision to reach but I won’t be renewing my contract.
“I would like to thank Warren and the WRU for the opportunity I have had working with the national team.”
“We have won four Six Nations titles during my time with Wales, but I sincerely hope and believe that the best days are yet to come and I am fully focused on seeing what we can achieve in Japan.”
Edwards reneged on an agreement to head home to Wigan Warriors to become their head coach after the World Cup.
And with his decision to not switch codes Gatland said he hoped the team could break new ground at the global tournament in a final farewell to his backroom staff as much as himself.
Gatland said: “Shaun has been an important part of the Wales set up over the past 11 years for what has been a hugely rewarding time for Welsh rugby.
“It is pleasing that we can draw a line under the speculation regarding Shaun’s future with this announcement and we can look forward to preparing the squad for the RWC and the tournament itself in Japan later this year.”
Edwards now looks set to entertain interest from French rugby boss Bernard Laporte.
The FFR president has been covering his tracks after a less than impressive Six Nations heightened the scrutiny surrounding the sacking of Guy Noves.
Hit hard in the pocket by paying out a six-figure sum to the former Toulouse coach, morale in the French camp appeared to hit new lows under his successor Jacques Brunel when they finished fourth in the Six Nations.
With Laporte resorting to drafting in Fabien Galthie and Raphael Ibanez to cover the cracks, Edwards is seen as a target with a proven track record of a lock-out defence.
A financially attractive proposition to Edwards made better with France set to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but not without the baggage of bad politics.
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