Darren Edwards is coming "home" - Newport Gwent Dragons have snapped up the former Newport scrum half who will be returning to Wales to take up the role of backs coach with the men of Gwent.
Maesteg-born Edwards joins the Dragons from Harlequins, where he has been coaching since he retired from playing in 2008, and is also part of the Wales Under 18 coaching team.
Edwards began his senior playing career with Saracens in 1996 and joined Newport in 2000, playing 21 times for the club. He also represented London Irish - for whom he made over 100 appearances - Bedford and London Welsh before ending at Leeds Carnegie and hanging up his boots last year.
A member of the 2003 Wales squad, he won representative honours with Wales A, Sevens, Under 21, Students and Under 18 and was also played for the Barbarians in International matches against England, Scotland and Wales.
"After 13 years in professional rugby with 12 of it in England it is a great opportunity to return to Welsh rugby. I feel I can have a positive impact at Rodney Parade through my experiences of playing and coaching at the top level in the Guinness Premiership.
"I enjoyed my season with Newport in 2000-2001 with one of my stand out memories playing against Bath in the Heineken Cup on a Friday night at Rodney Parade with an electric atmosphere. It is a great place to play where the fans and their support make a difference to the players on the pitch.
"There is a lot of exciting young talent at the Dragons. It's all about nurturing the young talent and as a young coach I feel I understand how to identify and get the best out of these young players.
"I think coaching has changed over the years and today it is much more about developing players to give them confidence to perform to their full potential. Having been a player-coach for two seasons at Leeds before joining Harlequins, I was able to get a smooth transition from playing into coaching and I'm looking forward to joining the Coaching team at the Dragons and developing a successful team."
For Dragons Head Coach Paul Turner, Edwards' appointment revives a successful half-back partnership.
"I have known Darren since his early days at Saracens when he partnered me in the half-backs at Bedford," said the former Welsh fly half. "He went on to be a key player in a very good London Irish side and has a strong understanding of the game.
Although Darren only officially went into coaching three years ago, his position on the field at scrum half required an ability to direct play and talk the other players through the game, so he's been coaching a lot longer than you realise.
"We were able to look at several top-rate candidates for this role and it was very important to us to take the opportunity to bring another Welsh coach to the Dragons."
Edwards will join the Dragons in July on a 2-year contract.
"We are delighted that Darren has decided to join us at the Dragons," said Dragons Rugby Manager Robert Beale. "He is a former player at Rodney Parade who has showed pedigree on the pitch and he is a young, gifted coach who will bring a fresh approach to our coaching team.
"It is obviously great to be able to bring another Welsh talent home. Darren has been plying his trade in England for many years and he will be able to draw on these experiences in working with the Dragons squad."
DARREN EDWARDS FACTFILE Date of Birth: 25/03/1974 Place of Birth: Maesteg Position: Scrum half Weight: 80kgs / 12st 8lbs Height: 173cm / 5ft 8ins Former Clubs: London Welsh, Newport, London Irish, Saracens, Bedford, Leeds Carnegie
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