Rugby evening headlines as Welsh coach gone with immediate effect and Scarlets announce reshuffle

Here are your rugby evening headlines for Tuesday, January 25

Former Wales international leaves Premiership role with immediate effect

Former Wales back-row Jonathan Thomas has left his post as Worcester Warriors head coach with immediate effect.

Ex-Sale boss Steve Diamond has taken control for the rest of the season, having been appointed as lead rugby consultant in November.

He will then become director of rugby at the end of the season as Alan Solomons retires.

Ex Osprey Thomas was promoted to the role of head coach in January 2021.

But Warriors have continued to struggle under the 39-year-old – sitting second bottom in the Premiership, propped up only by Bath.

“It was the logical decision to offer Steve the role as director of rugby,” said Warriors co-owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham, in a club statement.

“Steve has the qualities needed to take the club to the next level and achieve our ambitions of competing at the top end of the Premiership.

“We have invested a great deal into ensuring we have all the right ingredients for the club to reach its full potential.

Goldring and Whittingham, who are also directors of League One football club Morecambe, added: “We have unwavering confidence in the strength of the players and the ability of the club to achieve that goal.

“Jonathan has given his all to the club. We appreciate everything he’s done in his time at Warriors both as a player and a coach.”

Following the announcement, Thomas posted a message to fans of the English outfit on social media, saying: “Nothing but big love for the players, coaches, support staff and supporters at Worcester Warriors.

“This team is ready to take off over the next 12 months. Awesome young players coming through and I’ve really enjoyed putting some good foundations in place.”

Scarlets coach intent on exposing young players to help regions thrive

Scarlets coach Dwayne Peel has admitted that exposing young players is a key part of improving the regions’ fortunes.

After another tough year in Europe, questions are understandably being asked about where the regions go next and what the Welsh Rugby Union should be doing to ensure that four of the five professional sides in Wales can actually compete.

Saturday’s defeat to Bristol Bears – and particularly the difference in the two sides’ benches – was a reminder of where the four Welsh regions are currently at.

“It is disappointing and that (Scarlets are the only Welsh side to reach the Heineken Champions Cup knockout stages since 2011-12) is not a good enough statistic,” said Peel.

“That is not where we want to be as a club and coming off the back of two pretty disappointing results. The facts are the facts. We need to be better, how we do that, there are a number of factors.

“We need to understand where we are with the performance side of things. Munster, Leinster and Ulster have been competitive within the competition (Europe) and these are sides we regularly compete with in the URC or Pro14 over the last couple of years.

“We can claw it back. There is a lot of work that needs to be done through the young level moving up. I saw the Bristol bench there were two All Blacks and English internationals coming off the bench and that’s the reality.

“Unfortunately for us at this stage we have a number of high-profile players who are injured and that hurts us, especially in the back-row.

“That’s something you don’t really account for when you are building a European squad and you need an element of luck of injuries with your international players.

“It is also about what we produce as well that we understand where the game is moving and what type of players we need to produce and challenge.

“The results are the results. That’s the fact of the matter. All I can do is look internally at what we can do. We need to look at everything from bottom up in terms of what we do with our kids, what type of player we want to produce.

“That’s ongoing with us. I’m new to the job so understanding what goes on behind the scenes is important and the way we want to drive it. Retention and recruitment is important as well. Allowing and exposing young players to play is something we ‘ve talked about.

“We need more exposure for our young players here so when we come up to that level, we’re more exposed to it. That’s all I can say on the matter. The facts are the fact. I haven’t been here that long .”

Wales U20s confirm coaches as Scarlets announce reshuffle

Wales have confirmed the coaching staff for the upcoming U20s Six Nations campaign.

Shaun Connor, Craig Everett and Richard Kelly will assist head coach Byron Hayward ahead of their opening game against Ireland at Musgrave Park on Friday 4th February.

Dragons Academy coach Connor will lead on the breakdown while Cardiff Pathway coach Craig Everett heads up the defence.

Kelly returns to the fold as set-piece coach, having been involved previously when Gareth Williams was head coach of the U20s.

The news has also led to the Scarlets confirming a reshuffle of their own coaching ticket.

Following Kelly’s departure from the club as line-out coach at the beginning of November, All Blacks World Cup winner Ben Franks has taken up the position of Scarlets interim forwards coach.

Former Scarlets and Wales hooker Emyr Phillips has stepped up from transition coach into the senior coaching team for the season.

Scarlets General Manager of Rugby Jon Daniels said: “As a player, Academy coach and senior coach, Rich has been a committed Scarlet. We thank him for his service and wish him well in his new role.”

Gloucester coach in dark over England star’s injury

Gloucester boss George Skivington has claimed he is in the dark about the exact severity of England winger Jonny May’s knee injury that has made him a doubt for the Six Nations.

The seasoned winger was replaced in the 36-strong squad on Monday by Saracens’ Elliot Daly. However, details are thin on the ground about the nature of the injury – with even Skivington unable to shed much light.

“We don’t know yet because he is seeing some people this week,” said Skivington when asked as to what the likely recovery time frame is for May.

“It definitely will be a good couple of weeks but once we get all the information in front of us we will get to the bottom of it and as soon as we know the timescale, I don’t think it will be secret.

He added that “the hope” is May will be able to rejoin England before the end of the Six Nations, but he couldn’t deliver any assessment with confidence.

“I haven’t seen Jonny for a few days since he has been diagnosed, so he is off seeing the best of the best and he will get a plan in place for whatever timescale that is.”

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