Cardiff Blues have appointed former Cardiff RFC player and coach Gruff Rees as the new Academy Manager, replacing outgoing Director of Development Clive Jones.
The 42-year-old will come on board with responsibility for both Cardiff Blues U16 sides, the re-combined Cardiff Blues U18 side, and the newly established Cardiff Blues U23s, which will form the top level of the regional development pathway from next season.
Rees comes on board after leaving the Ospreys at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, with whom he has been backs coach since 2012. He had previously worked with the academy there, as well as spending a six month attachment with Rowland Phillips at Italian side Aironi.
Before that, the Cardiff-born winger had come through the ranks at Cardiff RFC after attending Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf. He played for Cardiff Youth and Cardiff U21, before making a solitary blue and blacks appearance against Penarth in October 1995.
After finishing his playing days he then took up the role as Glamorgan Wanderers head coach in 2001, and was Cardiff RFC backs coach in 2006/07 under Justin Burnell.
Speaking to the official Cardiff Blues website about his return to the Arms Park, Rees said, “I can’t wait to get started in the role. It’s great to be returning to work in Cardiff, and the potential within this group of boys is really exciting.
“I had a special time playing with Cardiff, and my time as head coach of Glamorgan Wanderers was an important stage of my coaching career.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Ospreys, and one aspect of the job I was always proud of was seeing local youngsters – your likes of Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin – break into the first team and becoming key squad members.
“Working with and developing future internationals is fulfilling as a coach, and I’m also looking forward to link up with talented young coaches such as Richie Rees and Duane Goodfield.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with the development of young players, and it is something I’ve experienced throughout my career – with Glamorgan Wanderers, Welsh Rugby Union, Ospreys, and now Cardiff Blues.
“We’ve already seen the potential in this team, with the likes of Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans and Seb Davies being influential throughout last season’s Challenge Cup victory. The region is a hot-bed for local talent, and our aim is to continue the implementation of these youngsters into the Cardiff Blues squad for years to come.”