Cardiff Blues coach T Rhys Thomas has joined the Wales under-20 coaching team for the upcoming Six Nations campaign, which is held at Cardiff Arms Park.
With Gareth Williams stepping up to join Wayne Pivac’s backroom staff with the national squad, Ioan Cunningham was confirmed yesterday as the new head coach.
Former Wales international hooker Thomas will assist Cunningham, alongside former Ospreys duo Paul James and Richard Fussell.
Thomas, who will be taking charge of the line-outs, has been a member of Cardiff Blues’ senior coaching team this season, but will have in-depth knowledge of the next generation due to his time with the Cardiff Blues academy.
Wales’ Six Nations campaign gets underway at the iconic Arms Park on Saturday, 19 June, as they welcome Italy to the Welsh capital.
Head coach, and former Scarlets forwards coach, Cunningham, said: “I’m obviously delighted to get the opportunity to lead the talented team of coaches, players and staff.
“It’s always an honour to represent your country at any level and I’m extremely honoured and privileged to have this opportunity.
“I’ve been working closely with Babs (Gareth Williams) over the last seven or eight months, looking at the depth of talent we have at this age group and helping to structure sessions and preparations which has been in uncertain times and difficult circumstances. Babs has done a great job with the U20s over the last few years and leaves the position in a very good place.
“I’ve really enjoyed working alongside TRT, Paul James and Richard Fussell, who are all great talented coaches who bring different knowledge and experience from different environments to the group, not only as players, but with the experiences they are currently building up in their day to day work in the regions.
“The group is flourishing, working alongside them and they are getting challenged as well and growing as coaches and I think that is important as part of the development programme and coach development programme in Wales. This is a fantastic springboard and stepping stone for coaches that can go on to bigger and better things.
“We’re in a privileged position in the current climate that we can get this opportunity to perform at this level. We have got an exceptional talented group of players which are chomping to put the red jersey on to represent their country in a home Six Nations which is quite unusual.
“The group have been working extremely hard, especially over the last six to eight weeks and the protocols and the structures we have had to stick to in the environment to get us to this point, everyone has to take credit on the hard work that has been put in.”