By Owen Morgan
Former England international Tom May has been announced as the new backs coach at London Welsh.
May, who finished his playing career with the Old Deer Park outfit in 2016, returns to the club following the departure of director of rugby Sonny Parker earlier this summer.
Former Ospreys and Wales star Parker has returned to his native New Zealand following almost 20 years’ involvement in Northern Hemisphere rugby.
Parker had delayed his return Down Under in order to help London Welsh through their turbulent recent history, which saw them forced into liquidation and relegated to the ninth tier of English rugby.
Former Ospreys prop Cai Griffiths continues in his role as The Exiles’ head coach, while May will support him alongside strength and conditioning coach Will Taylor and the remainder of the club’s coaching team.
May is a firm favourite at the West London club having originally signed as a player in 2013.
The former Newcastle, Northampton Saints and Toulon utility back played an instrumental role in the club’s promotion to the Premiership in his first season.
A twice-capped England international, who also represented his country at sevens, May played for the club in the Premiership and Championship before retiring at the end of the 15/16 season.
May said of his return to the club: “It’s a good opportunity to get back to the club I finished my professional career at and give something back.
“It’s clear to see there are some talented boys knocking around here and I guess the level they’re playing at doesn’t give enough credit to these boys.
“There’s some really good talent there and it’s nice to be able to help them, whether they be slightly older or slightly younger. It’s nice to be able to help them in their rugby journey.”
The club’s current position in English rugby is a world away from the days when London Welsh was one of the most famous and successful names in British rugby during the 1960 and 70s.
A Premiership outfit as recently as 2015, the club’s professional team was expelled from the Championship in January of last year after failing to satisfy the RFU criteria for Championship rugby.
Following their demotion and reincarnation as an amateur club, Welsh launched a five-year plan to return to the English national leagues.
The project got off to a flying start last season as they secured promotion from London SE Division Herts and Middlesex Division One.
Club Chairman Gwyn Williams feels the appointment of May will help the club continue on that upward curve.
He said: “We are delighted to have Tom back with us, he is part of our recent history and hopefully a very big part of what is to come – it is great to see the continued momentum and support that we attract to our journey as we continue to build.
“Cai Griffiths as head coach supported by Tom, Will Taylor together with the rest of the coaching and management, as well as a talented playing squad, can look forward to an exciting season with all the support of the club behind them.”
Head coach Griffiths commented: ” I’m delighted for us to have someone of Tom May’s calibre joining the club. I have played with Tom and he has captained me in the past. I know how talented he is.
“With the quality of players we have and the standard of all the coaches, I’m very confident that we will have a promotion again this year.”
Welsh kick off their season with a pre-season friendly at Caldicot on August 18, before starting their London 3 North West league campaign at Datchworth on September 8.