ENGLAND and France have been alerted to the availability of Shaun Edwards following his decision to step down as Wales defence coach after the World Cup.
Edwards has rejected the offer of a new deal from the Welsh Rugby Union and will end his 11-year stay with the Grand Slam champions once Japan 2019 is completed, departing alongside head coach Warren Gatland.
‘After more than 10 years with Wales this has been an incredibly difficult decision to reach but I won’t be renewing my contract,’ Edwards said.
‘We have won four Six Nations titles during my time with Wales, but I sincerely hope and believe that the best days are yet to come and I am fully focused on seeing what we can achieve in Japan.’
Edwards, considered among the game’s foremost defence coaches, has been linked to roles with England and France following a successful Six Nations in which Wales conceded the fewest number of points and tries.
The future of Eddie Jones and his tracksuit lieutenants beyond the World Cup is shrouded in doubt and Edwards is also viewed as a candidate to join Fabien Galthie’s coaching team when he succeeds Jacques Brunel after the global showpiece.
A number of Gallagher Premiership clubs, including Leicester and Wasps, are also interested in adding Edwards to their staff.
The 52-year-old had verbally agreed to become boss of rugby league club Wigan from 2020 but — after requesting more time to consider his future in March — he chose not to take up the position.
Gatland has welcomed the clarity on Edwards’ Wales future, although speculation over his next job after Japan 2019 will persist.
The Kiwi admitted earlier this the week that the uncertainty was in danger of becoming a distraction as Wales look towards the start of their World Cup preparations this summer.
‘Shaun has been an important part of the Wales set up over the past 11 years for what has been a hugely-rewarding time for Welsh rugby,’ Gatland said.
‘It’s pleasing that we can draw a line under the speculation regarding Shaun’s future with this announcement and we can look forward to preparing the squad for the RWC and the tournament itself in Japan later this year.’
Wayne Pivac, Gatland’s successor who will take charge in time for his first Six Nations in 2020, failed in his attempt to persuade Edwards to stay.
‘Shaun has a great history with Wales and has been part of a coaching team that has been very successful,’ Pivac said.
‘When Shaun’s availability post-World Cup recently became apparent, we worked with him to offer him a new contract which he was happy with and for him to be part of the new-look coaching team going forward.
‘Shaun has decided not to take that contract, which we must respect and we wish Shaun the very best in what lies ahead for him post Wales.’