Welsh Rugby Union | Wales and regions

Shaun Connor, Craig Everett and Richard Kelly will assist head coach Byron Hayward as they prepare for the opening game against Ireland at Musgrave Park on Friday, February 4.

Dragons Academy coach Shaun Connor will take charge of the disturbance, while Cardiff Pathway coach Craig Everett will lead the defense.

Richard Kelly returns as regular coach, having previously been involved when Gareth Williams was head coach of the U20s.

The trio brings with them a wealth of coaching experience.

Connor, who was the first Osprey to make 100 appearances for the region before making 29 appearances for Newport Gwent Dragons, was an Academy Skills Coach with the Gwent region between 2014-18. The former flying half also worked with the Dragons senior team before heading to the Rugby World Cup with Russia as their backline coach.

Kelly first stepped into coaching when his promising second-row playing career with both the Ospreys and Scarlets was cut short by injury. He has been part of the Scarlets coaching system since 2015.

He spent two seasons as head coach with Carmarthen Quins in the Welsh Premiership and led the coaching team with Scarlets A in the Celtic Cup. He was promoted from the Scarlets Academy in May 2020 to the role of striker coach for the region.

After a career playing for Aberavon, Newport, Carmarthen Quins, Cardiff, Worcester Warriors and Llanelli, Everett began his coaching journey at Cardiff Rugby Academy. Two years ago, he was part of the Cardiff Blues coaching team that won the regional U18 crown for the first time in four years. He is currently a skills coach at Cardiff Rugby and is in his first year as a striker/skills coach at Cardiff RFC.

“I’m very happy with the coaching group we have now,” said Hayward. “We took the time to finish it because it was important, we got the right people in.

“Shaun clearly has a lot of experience coaching PRO14 and international rugby with Russia, so he adds a huge amount of experience, but it’s also about giving opportunities to up and coming coaches.

“I know Rich has coached with the Scarlets but he is still relatively young at 34, young in terms of coaching and experience but he has a wealth of knowledge especially on the set which is what he does with us and especially the lineout area which was his strongest point when he played so he brings a lot of experience from a playing perspective.

“Craig Everett in terms of coaching would be considered inexperienced but he comes in to defend which is a huge role. Hopefully I can help him in that area with my past experience and he is doing a great job in all honesty. I am very happy with what he is doing, he has the qualities you need as a coach, a very high work ethic and a real desire to improve the players.

“For me it’s not just about being technically and tactically sound, it’s also about being good people and being a good fit for the environment we want to create – so from that perspective I’m very happy.”

Matches Wales U20
Fri 4 Feb – Ireland U20 v Wales O20, Musgrave Park – 8pm
Fri 11 Feb – Wales U20 v Scotland U20 – Eirias Park – 8pm
Fri 25 Feb – England U20 v Wales U20 – Castle Park – 7pm
Thu 10 March – Wales U20 v France U20 – Parc Eirias – 8pm
Sun 20 March – Wales U20 v Italy U20 – Parc Eirias – 2pm

Tickets available at: www.venuecymru.co.uk for home games

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