Incoming Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has announced Stephen Jones and Jonathan Humphreys as the first two confirmed members of his coaching team that will take over next year.
They will take over after next year’s World Cup when Warren Gatland leaves after 12 years at the helm, and it begins to put to an end to the speculation surrounding who Pivac will select to join him as his assistants.
Jones will follow Pivac from the Scarlets to the national team setup, and will look after the backs and attack after a glittering playing career that included over 300 Scarlets appearances across two spells, as well as time spent at Clermont Auvergne and Wasps. He won 104 Wales caps, and captained the side, as well as playing in six British and Irish Lions tests.
The 41-year-old started his coaching career upon retiring at Wasps, before returning to his spiritual home in Llanelli as a coach in 2015, helping the West Wales side to Guinness Pro14 success and Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals.
Former Cardiff RFC hooker Jonathan Humphreys, who also captained Wales during a career that took him across the border to Bath, has a more extensive coaching CV having been in charge of the forwards at the Ospreys during their ‘galactico’ period before getting international experience with Scotland.
When Gregor Townsend took over the Scottish side in 2017, Humphreys went the other way and has been an assistant to Dave Rennie, who was widely tipped to take the Wales job, at Glasgow Warriors for the last 18 months.
It has also been confirmed that skills coach Neil Jenkins and head of physical performance Paul Stridgeon will remain in their posts after the next World Cup, with both permanent employees of the Welsh Rugby Union rather than being on a fixed-term contract.
The final piece of the backroom staff puzzle is widely expected to be current Scarlets defence coach Byron Hayward, however negotiations have not been completed yet.
Speaking to the WRU’s official website about his appointment, Jones said, “I’m hugely excited with the opportunity.
“It is a great honour to be asked to coach your country and I’m really looking forward to the challenge and very much looking forward to working with Jon, Neil and Paul for what I hope will be a very exciting period in Welsh rugby.
“I’m very grateful to the Scarlets for the opportunity I have had with them and for their continued support. Whilst excited by this role, my focus is fully on the Scarlets and the rest of our campaign.”
Humphreys was also quoted saying, “It’s a huge honour to return to Wales during what is a really exciting time for Welsh Rugby. The opportunity to come back and coach my country with Wayne and Stephen is one that I couldn’t turn down.
“I’m indebted to Scottish Rugby. I’d like to thank Mark Dodson, Scott Johnson and Vern Cotter for giving me the opportunity to be involved in their vision six years ago. I will always take great pride in my time here and the growth and success that the whole of Scottish Rugby have experienced in that time.
“In the meantime I have a job to do in Glasgow and my focus will be solely here until the end of the season. The club set-up at Scotstoun is one of the best I have experienced during my coaching career and it would be fantastic to try and finish up with some silverware.”