Shaun Edwards will be retained as the Wales national squad assistant coach for at least the next four years, the Welsh Rugby Union confirmed today after concluding negotiations to re-sign its highly sought after defence coach.
Edwards will remain at the side of head coach Warren Gatland up to and including the 2015 Rugby World Cup and, under the new deal, will now also be a part of the WRU National Academy system and so be able to pass on his considerable expertise to the players that will form Welsh rugby's international future as well as its present.
Edwards joined the WRU national squad coaching team in 2008 on a part time bais and, alongside Gatland and fellow coaches Rob Howley, Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins oversaw Wales' RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam in his debut season as an international coach.
The former Rugby League playing great, who captained England in both League and Union at schoolboy level, began his coaching career in Union alongside Gatland at London Wasps in 2001, where the duo won three consecutive Premiership titles and the Heineken Cup during the four seasons they were together.
In 2009 the pair, with the WRU's blessing along with Howley and Jenkins, coached the British & Irish Lions on tour to South Africa under head coach Sir Ian McGeechan.
Once Edwards returned from the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand which saw Wales reach the semi-final stages for only the second time in their history, negotiations with WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis intensified as rugby institutions around the globe expressed their interest in his services.
"I concluded negotiations with Shaun over the week-end and am extremely pleased to be able to announce we have secured his services for the WRU up to and including the Rugby World Cup in 2015,"said Lewis.
"We have an outstanding team of coaches and back room staff working under WRU Head Coach, Warren Gatland, and Shaun's role as defence coach within that team is something quite unique.
"Talks began informally and discreetly in New Zealand with Shaun, and have continued over the past two weeks. I am particularly pleased to add that In addition to his extended senior national team duties under Warren, Shaun will also be working with WRU Head of Rugby, Joe Lydon, within the WRU National Academy.
"Shaun will work with the Wales U20's, 18's and 16's. This is part of our strategy to ensure our coaches have influence over our elite players early in their development."
"Under the terms of the contract Shaun will be released one day a week, save test match weeks, to work with an English Premiership club.
"However I have also negotiated the opportunity for Shaun to also work at times with Welsh Premiership clubs, which is particularly exciting for this level of our game.
"Our structures are in place both on and off the field to take us up to and beyond the Rugby World Cup in 2015, all underpinned by sound financial management.
"The Welsh rugby public, who have been so loyal to us all can look forward to the next four years with great anticipation."
Principality Stadium will host the UEFA Champions League Final in six weeks' time. WRU chairman Gareth Davies, Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford and Ambassador Ian Rush joined young sports fans at the trophy arrival at the venue to celebrate the magnitude of the event on Saturday 3rd June (kick-off 19.45).
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is looking forward to bringing together players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales for the biggest challenge of their careers - a series against world champions, New Zealand.
For the fifth year running, Wales referee Nigel Owens will be in charge of proceedings at Judgement Day V at Principality Stadium. It promises to be 'extra special' for the Wales' favourite ref, as he will be making his 150th appearance in the league.
There will be no shortage of inside knowledge from Bowl Finalists Caerphilly and Amman United when they face each other on Sunday at National Finals Day. Caerphilly hooker Rhys Cleverly knows the Principality Stadium pitch better than most as a matchday groundsman, while Amman United can look to Wales' record try scorer Shane Williams for some helpful advice.
Two hundred and 40 teams competed in the inaugural Urdd WRU 7s held at Pencoed last week with Welsh internationals Steff Andrews and Jasmine Joyce impressed with the talent on display, as was Urdd chief executive, Sioned Hughes.
The countdown is on for Judgement Day V as tickets for the big day at Principality Stadium soar through the 50,000 mark. Players and coaches alike are bursting at the seams to play in the double header with Dragons coach Kingsley Jones claiming there is a 'real buzz' about the event.
WRU TV went behind the scenes when the four regions got together to test their skill set for the BBC's Scrum V Live rugby show, at the WRU National Centre of Excellene in the build up to Judgement Day V. Blues' Matthew Morgan was one of the stars of the show while the Dragons' Cory Hill proved a surprise package...the full set of results will be revealed on tv screens on matchday
Wales assistant coach Richie Pugh is confident his side can cause a few headaches in the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend. In a tough group, Wales kick off their campaign against New Zealand on Friday before playing Japan and Fiji, who are chasing their third consecutive Hong Kong title, on Saturday.
Bedwas had to overcome a stubborn Carmarthen Quins side before winning the Foster's Challenge Cup final in Bridgend with a 23-18 victory. Bedwas captain Nicky Griffiths pays tribute to his side who have claimed the club's first piece of silverware in the modern era.
Team coach Brett Davey is aiming to keep his unbeaten run in cup finals at Principality Stadium intact when his side take on Amman United in the WRU Bowl final, after he guided Caerphilly to a 20-14 win against Cilfynydd in the semi-finals.
Penallta are hoping to go one step further than last season when falling to Bedlinog in the WRU Plate Final. After a titanic struggle against Nant Conwy, they have given themselves a great chance, after a hard fought 18-13 semi-final victory.