Wales Sevens coach John steps down to take up role with Cardiff Blues
By Gary Anderson
John, who began his playing career with Cardiff in 1988 before moving on to Pontypridd and winning 10 international caps for Wales, took over the sevens head coach role in 2008.
Prior to this, he had enjoyed a successful spell coaching at Pontypridd following retirement from playing in 2005.
In his first season in charge of Wales Sevens, John led his side to a first Rugby World Cup Sevens title in 2009 with a historic 19-12 victory over Argentina in Dubai.
Later that year, John took up a full-time role with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and was in charge of further developing the sevens game in the nation.
In that time, a number of players have come through the Welsh Sevens system and gone on to represent Wales at full international level in the 15-aside-game including Alex Cuthbert, Rhys Patchell, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric and Lloyd Williams.
However, despite an impressive array of names coming through, Wales put up a disappointing defence of their Rugby World Cup Sevens title in Moscow last year, losing out to eventual winners New Zealand in the quarterfinals at the Luzhniki Stadium.
John’s assistant coach, Gareth Williams will take over the head coach position on an interim basis and will be in charge for the upcoming HSBC Sevens World Series rounds in Las Vegas and Wellington.
“The last six years working at the Welsh Rugby Union have been the most challenging and rewarding of my rugby career,” said John.
“It’s been a brilliant environment to be part of and all members of the Wales Sevens management team have been a particular joy to work with.
“For that reason, I certainly wasn’t looking to leave the WRU and it has been a very difficult decision to make.
“But coaching the Blues will certainly be a challenge and on reflection it was a decision I felt I could live to regret if I didn’t make the move.
“I’m leaving the Wales Sevens set-up in great hands with Gareth taking interim charge of the side, ably assisted by team manager David Jenkins and conditioner Wayne Proctor and the current squad is in excellent shape for the rest of the season.”
After three rounds of the 2013-2014 HSBC Sevens World Series, Wales sit in ninth place on the overall standings following two Cup quarterfinal appearances at Gold Coast and Dubai.
Last time out in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the team struggled, picking up only five ranking points after losing to Australia in the Bowl semi-final.
WRU national performance manager Gethin Watts paid tribute to John for his work in developing the sevens game in Wales and wished him well in his new role with the Cardiff Blues, before looking ahead to the rest of the season.
“We are fortunate to have somebody of Gareth Williams’ ability to take charge at this time,” Watts added.
“He, together with the rest of the management team are very experienced in their own right and will lead the Wales Sevens side into the next two tournaments.
“This is a great opportunity to further develop a young, ambitious and very capable young coach whilst maintaining continuity in our development system.”
Next up for Williams and the Welsh side is the Las Vegas Sevens on January 24-26 followed by the Wellington Sevens on February 7-8.
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