British & Irish Lions Tour Manager Gerald Davies and Head Coach Ian McGeechan announced today in Dublin the coaching and key backroom staff for the 2009 Tour to South Africa.
The Wales Grand Slam winning trio of coaches Shaun Edwards, Warren Gatland and Rob Howley will join McGeechan in South Africa and will be responsible for defence, forward and backs coaching respectively.
This talented group of internationally experienced coaches are joined in the management team by Craig White who will be responsible for the physical conditioning of the players; doctor James Robson, who will lead the medical team; Rhys Long who will oversee performance analysis and Greg Thomas who heads the media team.
Davies said, "Today is an important milestone in our preparation. The personnel announced today have the proven skill sets to ensure that the Lions squad is well prepared for the tour to South Africa next year.
"The cosmopolitan make-up of the management team reflects the modern nature of Rugby and they, like me, are well aware of the challenges that await us."
Commenting on the coaching appointments McGeechan said, "Lions tours are unique as we have to mold together players from four different countries. There has to be a unified, common approach on the tour with coaches and players working together.
"We therefore have to create a positive environment and appoint the right personnel to help devise the right strategies to take on the Springboks at home. I am delighted with today's appointments and confident that we can come together quickly as preparation time is always short.
"Working with coaches and personnel that I know well and who have successful track records and experience ensures that we will get the best out of the players and provide the greatest chance of winning the test series."
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.