Gethin Watts (left) and Will Thomas have joined the WRU as Regional Performance Development managers
The Welsh Rugby Union has appointed Ebbw Vale head coach Will Thomas as Regional Performance Development Manager for the Dragons region as one of four new appointments within the elite development department
The appointment means he will relinquish his coaching role with the Premiership side, with his last match in charge of the Steelmen being the televised home clash against Newport on October 4.
The former Wales A backrow was Welsh Rugby Industry Project co-ordinator for the five Objective 1 funded WRU academies for the past three years, a project which has now come to an end.
Gethin Watts has been appointed into the corresponding role within the Blues region, having previously been WRU academy manager at the Ospreys, while Kevin George, formerly Scarlets academy manager, will carry out this key development role in the Scarlets region. The Regional Performance Development Manager role within the Ospreys region is currently vacant and will be advertised on the WRU website this week.
The key aims of the Regional Performance Development Managers are to identify and manage the development of elite, young players, working closely with professional and semi-professional coaches and managers within the four regions, along with the regional academy staff, with the distinct aim of producing potential future professional rugby players. The job combines the off-field, holistic management of players' career and educational pathways with the on-field development of players, including overseeing the team performance element of the regional age grade teams.
Former Cross Keys captain Will Thomas said, "I'm thrilled to be taking on this hands-on role working with the exciting, young talent in the Dragons region.
"A number of international age grade players have graduated into the professional Dragons playing squad in recent seasons and I'm looking forward to working with the professional and semi-professional coaches within the region, along with the WRU skills and fitness coaches within the Dragons academy to continue to develop and strengthen that production line of talent into the professional game."
Gethin Watts said, "I'm looking forward to utilising the experience I gained as a WRU academy manager to further develop the rich vein of talent that exists within the Blues region.
"I'm excited at the opportunity of working with Dai Young's coaching team, together with the three semi-professional coaching teams at Glamorgan Wanderers, Cardiff and Pontypridd to help produce the home grown talent needed to enable the Blues and Wales to realise their on-field ambitions. I'm also keen to ensure our young players gain the support they need off the field to help them reach that goal."
WRU elite performance staff within the four professional Regions:
Regional Performance Development Manager - Gethin Watts
Skills coach - tbc
Fitness Coach - Rhodri Williams
Regional Performance Development Manager - Will Thomas
Skills coach - Wayne Jones
Fitness coach - Byron Hayward
Regional Performance Development Manager - tba
Skills coach - Gruff Rees
Fitness coach - Keith Hollifield
Scarlets: Regional Performance Development Manager - Kevin George
Skills coach - Rob Appleyard
Fitness coach - Eifion Roberts
The unique jeopardy of Judgement Day V has been described by stars from Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons who will face each other in the annual double-header at Principality Stadium on 15th April.
School club hub officers in schools throughout Wales are enriching lives by helping pupils to engage more with their education, their community and improve their own outlook on life and future prospects by improving confidence and developing skills such as leadership.
WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips, WRU chairman Gareth Davies and Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies discuss the historic intentions of the governing body to assume operational control of the Newport Gwent Dragons, with a targeted completion date of 1st July.
Equal access to facilities and resources at St Helen's has seen Swansea Women flourish since being welcomed with open arms last July. Swansea RFC chairman Stephen Hughes and women's captain Siwan Lillicrap are delighted to see rapid progress being made on and off the pitch.
Young referee Ben Breakspear is making rapid strides as a referee. In just over a year he has gone from officiating a college game to being a touchline official during last weekend's RBS 6 Nations clash between Wales and Ireland at Principality Stadium.
Grand Slams, Triple Crowns and British and Irish Lions tours - Sir Gareth Edwards did it all. But what are his favourite moments in what was an amazing career? WRU TV finds out - along with his favourite players of today in the third and final instalment of our series with the greatest rugby player ever.
JPR Williams, Gerald Davies and Mervyn Davies were among those in the Welsh ranks when Sir Gareth Edwards began his international career against France nearly 50 years ago, but who was the player who took the young scrum half under their wing?
Wales head coach Rob Howley and captain Alun Wyn Jones are expecting a physical battle against France on Saturday but both are hoping for another impact from the bench as the men in red chase a top-four world ranking.
It's nearly 50 years since the great Sir Gareth Edwards made his debut as a youngster for Wales against France in Stade Colombes. In the first of a series, WRU TV discovers he pocketed a 'special momento' from the game - something he still has today.