The WRU Board of Directors was called at short notice to an emergency meeting today (Thursday, 11 March) to hear the proposals from the five man panel put together to appoint a new coach. I was one of the members of that panel and, in the end, we managed to piece together a four man coaching and management team we feel is capable of leading Wales into a more successful period in an increasingly professional game.
The fact our recommendation was that Mike Ruddock should lead that coaching team was bound to lead to disappointment for the other two leading candidates, Gareth Jenkins and Mark Evans. Both men were interviewed at length by the panel and both men agreed the process we went through with them had been fair, open and thoroughly professional.
The whole selection process has taken longer than we anticipated, although we were prepared to wait as long as possible for the right outcome for Welsh rugby. There were some difficult and delicate negotiations along the way, culminating in an announcement that seemed to catch everyone off guard. Perhaps that is why feelings have been running so high.
The WRU wanted to be in control of the decision making process - and we were at all times. Once ratified by the Board, the successful candidate was informed and introduced to the media. Earlier in the day, Gareth Jenkins and Mark Evans were contacted by the Union to ask if they would be available to take a phone call between 2.30-3.00pm to tell them the outcome of the Board meeting.
Gareth Jenkins said he was attending a funeral and asked for the call to be as late as possible within that time frame. Prior to the unveiling of Mike Ruddock as the new coach, every effort was made to contact both men. Mark Evans was informed at 2.27pm by the WRU General Manager Steve Lewis that he had not been successful and was thanked for his efforts.
Personal contact was not possible with Gareth Jenkins, although voice messages were left for him at 2.30 and 2.38pm. Steve Lewis finally called his immediate boss, the Llanelli Scarlets chief executive Stuart Gallacher, at 3.07pm and informed him of the decision and the fact he had been unable to contact Gareth Jenkins. Only after that conversation with Gareth Jenkins club was Mike Ruddock presented to the media.
I shall be writing to both Gareth Jenkins and Mark Evans to thank them for the effort they put into their presentations and wishing them well for the future.