Wales boss opens up on defence coach's shock departure
SPOTLIGHT: Wales boss Wayne Pivac has taken full responsibility for the decision to part ways with defence coach Byron Hayward just days before the start of the Nations Cup.
The Welsh Rugby Union announced Hayward’s departure on Sunday, five days ahead of Friday’s opening match against Ireland in Dublin.
Wales, who endured a wretched 2020 Six Nations campaign, have won just two games out of seven under Warren Gatland’s successor Pivac, and are on a run of five successive defeats.
Wales are grouped with Ireland, Six Nations champions England and Georgia for the pool stage of the eight-team Nations Cup.
Hayward, 51, was part of Pivac’s coaching team that began work together after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
But Pivac said on Monday that the time was right for a change in the coaching set-up.
“The decision in relation to Byron was one that he and I sat down and discussed, and it was a decision that I took,” he said.
“It was my decision, and I informed the necessary people at the appropriate time.
“We looked at what was best going forward to the World Cup in 2023, and we felt that we weren’t getting what we wanted from our defence, and so the change has been made,” he added.
Former Wales prop Gethin Jenkins, who recently joined Pivac’s coaching staff as replacement for Sam Warburton, will be given increased defensive responsibility.
Pivac was asked whether players had any issues with Hayward, who had the unenviable task of replacing Shaun Edwards – seen as pivotal to Wales’s success down the years, most recently the 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam.
“I am continually talking to players on a daily basis over what we do in terms of the attack, the defence, the whole lot,” he responded.
“In the case of Byron, we have worked together closely and he is a friend away from the game.
“It’s a tough conversation, but one where we both respect each other’s views, and it was a mutual agreement that basically what we are doing is putting the team first.”