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
UEFA has today confirmed the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has been successful in its bid for the Millennium Stadium to host the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday 3rd June, 2017 (kick-off: 19.45hrs GMT).
The winners of a filmmaking competition organised by the education charity Into Film and the WRU enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the Millennium Stadium - and a chance to be photographed with the WRU's fire-breathing, rugby loving mascot, Scorch The Dragon, and Welsh international, Jake Ball.
The Wales Under 20 camp are in a quietly confident mood as they face Ireland in the U20 Championship, with Coaching Co-Ordinator Allan Lewis and full back Dafydd Howells targeting a top five finish in the tournament.
Wales U20 may start as favourites against Japan this evening in the U20 Championship, but Team Manager Mark Taylor is warning against complacency. He is also hoping a good win will boost morale and 'kickstart' performances.
Coach Richard Hodges is hoping Wales U20 can put a disappointing campaign behind them when they tackle Japan tomorrow as they look to finish the U20 Championship strongly to secure a good seeding for next year's tournament.