Wales have confirmed the coaching staff for the forthcoming U20s Six Nations campaign – and confirmed Dragons Academy Coach Shaun Connor will form part of the backroom team.
Connor, Craig Everett and Richard Kelly will assist head coach Byron Hayward as preparations gather momentum for the opening game against Ireland at Musgrave Park on Friday, February 4.
Dragons Academy coach Connor will lead on the breakdown while Cardiff Pathway coach Craig Everett heads up the defence.
Richard Kelly returns to the fold as set-piece coach, having been involved previously when Gareth Williams was head coach of the U20s. The trio bring with them a wealth of experience on the coaching front.
Connor, who was the first Osprey back to make 100 appearances for the region before making 29 appearances for Dragons, was Academy Skills Coach between 2014-18 with the Gwent region. The former fly half also spent time working with the Dragons senior squad before going to the Rugby World Cup with Russia as their backline coach.
Kelly first stepped into coaching when his promising playing career as a second row at both the Ospreys and Scarlets was cut short through injury. He has been part of the Scarlets coaching system since 2015. He acted as head coach at Welsh Premiership side Carmarthen Quins for two seasons and headed up the coaching team with Scarlets A in the Celtic Cup. He was promoted from the Scarlets Academy in May 2020 to the role of forwards coach at the region.
After a playing career where he played for Aberavon, Newport, Carmarthen Quins, Cardiff, Worcester Warriors and Llanelli, Everett started his coaching journey with Cardiff Rugby Academy. Two years ago he was part of the Cardiff Blues coaching team which won the U18 regional crown for the first time in four years. He is currently academy skills coach with Cardiff Rugby and is in his first year as forwards/skills coach with Cardiff RFC.
“I’m very happy with the coaching group we have now got,” said Hayward. “We took our time in finalising it as it was important, we got the right people in.
“Shaun has obviously got a lot of experience coaching PRO14 and international rugby with Russia, so he adds a massive amount of experience but it’s also about giving opportunities to up and coming coaches.
“I know Rich has coached at the Scarlets but he’s still relatively young at 34, young in terms of coaching and experience but he has a wealth of knowledge, particularly at the set-piece which is what he is doing with us, and especially the lineout area which was his forte 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 is coming in to do defence which is a massive role. Hopefully, I can help him out in that area with my past experiences and he is doing a great job in fairness. I’m really happy in what he is doing, he’s got the characteristics 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 as well and fitting in with the environment we want to create - so from that perspective I’m really happy.”
Wales U20 fixtures:
- Fri 4 Feb – Ireland U20 v Wales U20, Musgrave Park – 8pm
- Fri 11 Feb – Wales U20 v Scotland U20 – Parc Eirias - 8pm
- Fri 25 Feb – England U20 v Wales U20 – Castle Park – 7pm
- Thurs 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
Shaun has obviously got a lot of experience coaching PRO14 and international rugby with Russia, so he adds a massive amount of experience but it’s also about giving opportunities to up and coming coaches...