The Wales U19 team has been re-formed this year by the Welsh Rugby Union after spending more than a decade on the shelf.
In response to a change of age banding in the WRU system, switching from players born after the 1st September being available to those born after 1st January, as well as a desire to identify more players to have access to the national pathway, the U19 team launched this week at The Vale Resort.
The programme will be run by Wales U18 coaches Geraint Lewis and Chris Horsman, who also assist with the Wales U20 side, while they will be aided by a number of other coaches including Cardiff Blues Academy coaches Richie Rees and Gethin Jenkins.
Most-capped Wales player Jenkins only recently retired from playing and has immediately taken up a role with the Cardiff Blues Academy having coached Cardiff Blues A’s defence in this season’s first Celtic Cup competition.
Rees on the other hand has been back at the Cardiff Blues since the start of last season after hanging his boots up and kicking off his coaching career at the Dragons, jointly leading the Cardiff Blues A team with T Rhys Thomas.
Speaking to WRU TV at the launch this week, Rees said, “At this age there are a lot of physical differences between U18s and U20s. We are just trying to broaden the horizon from a Union perspective and keep everyone engaged with the pathway.
“For us as coaches trying to get players who maybe aren’t necessarily in academy systems, and are playing in university teams or working full-time, engaged and ultimately the more numbers we’ve got the bigger strength in depth we have.”
Wales U19s have fixtures slated against Japan twice and England, with full details to be confirmed in due course.