Gruff Rees combines academy role with Canada attachment

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Cardiff Blues Academy Manager Gruff Rees will combine his role with the youngsters in the development pathway with a position as backs coach of the Canadian national team.

After leaving his positions as backs coach at the Ospreys at the end of last season, Rees was named our Academy Manager with responsibility for players in the regional age grade teams, and the newly created U23 development team, taking over from the Coleg y Cymoedd bound Clive Jones.

Between announcing he would leave the Liberty Stadium and taking the job with Cardiff Blues up though, he was asked by Canada head coach Kinglsey Jones, formerly of the Dragons, if he would assist with the Canucks backs.

Kingsley Jones in his Dragons days with former Cardiff Blues coach Danny Wilson


Rees was with the side as they took on Scotland, Russia and the United States during June, with Canada losing all three tests, and will stay with them when they reconvene for the Rugby World Cup repechage tournament in November.

Canada will face the winner of Hong Kong v Cook Islands and the loser of Samoa v Germany, which will both be decided in July, as well as the runner-up in the African Gold Cup, which will be finalised by the end of August.

That tournament is the Canucks last chance to qualify for Japan 2019, with Rees telling BBC Sport Wales “being involved in a World Cup is something all coaches aspire to. To try and go to a World Cup is a huge carrot for me as a coach, but more importantly the Canadian players.”

Gruff Rees Ospreys
Gruff Rees was with the Ospreys for six seasons before departing at the end of last season


With the Cardiff Blues U23 team set to take the field for the first time in September though, Rees was insistent that his day job was his priority.

“My main job is with the Cardiff Blues and I am passionate about that,” said the former Cardiff RFC player,¬†“it is something I have spoken to the Blues about and it keeps my coaching eye in.

“This is something that will improve me as a coach and a manager.”

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