New WRU Chair Ieuan Evans Handed The Axe As Wayne Pivac Puts His Head On The Block

New WRU chairman Ieuan Evans. Pic: Getty Images.

New WRU Chair Ieuan Evans Handed The Axe As Wayne Pivac Puts His Head On The Block

By Paul Jones

Former Wales captain Ieuan Evans could wield the knife on Wayne Pivac next week – even though he has seen before the disaster it threatens.

Just a week into his new job as chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, Evans must help decide the fate of head coach Pivac.

With Warren Gatland also being tapped up by England, Evans knows the WRU must move fast if they decide to dump Pivac after a wretched 2022 in which the New Zealander won just three out of 12 matches.

But Evans knows better than anyone how costly sacking a coach in World Cup year can be.

The former Lions wing was a player in the Wales squads for the 1991 and 1995 tournaments, when Wales dumped their coach in the lead up.

In both cases, Wales failed to even get out of the pool stages.

In 1991, they got rid of Ron Waldron, but Alan Davies could not save them.

Four years later, they got shot of Davies himself with weeks to go before the 1995 event and Alex Evans also failed to spark.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac. Pic: Getty Images.

So far, Evans has given Pivac little reason to believe the review the WRU are conducting will offer the Kiwi some slack.

“The autumn was disappointing,” he said.

“You can’t hide away from that fact and neither should you

“The Six Nations is eight weeks away. It’s no time at all. Not long after that, the World Cup starts.

“We need to be competitive there and make sure that when we come back, we can judge whatever happens as a massive success.”

Gatland – always a canny negotiator – is in the box seat with England also going through an identical review on their head coach, Eddie Jones.

Wales view Gatland as their best hope should they get shot of Pivac, since their former coach took them to two World Cup semi-finals and delivered four Six Nations titles.

But England are also keen on Gatland, who would prefer a four-year deal from either nation, rather than just be the emergency repair man for the next nine months until the World Cup in France.

Former Wales coach Warren Gatland on pundit duty. Pic: Getty Images.

Giving further cold comfort to Pivac, Evans admitted the clock is ticking on Wales with others in the market for possible replacements.

“We understand the pressures and the timing,” he added.

“We’d be naïve not to think about that.”

Gatland has been tipped as a short-term successor to Jones, with the aim of taking England through to the World Cup.

Leicester boss Steve Borthwick, a former England captain, and Kiwi coach Scott Robertson, are among those touted as contenders for the England role.

Jones took charge of England after the hosts suffered an embarrassing group-stage exit at the 2015 World Cup.

The former Australia and Japan boss guided England all the way to the 2019 final in Japan only for the Springboks to triumph 32-12.

But after an Autumn Nations which featured just one win, over Japan, as well as defeats by Argentina and South Africa and a remarkable draw with New Zealand in a match the All Blacks dominated for 70 minutes, Jones’ future is now more uncertain than at any stage in his England tenure.

Head Coach Eddie Jones of England. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

His position was not helped when Jones’ longtime media advisor, David Pembroke, described RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney as “slippery” while accusing the Twickenham supremo of leaking stories to the media.

Pembroke has since apologised for remarks made on Wednesday in a newspaper website’s comments section.

Boos rang out at Twickenham following the 27-13 defeat by the Springboks, with Clive Woodward, England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach, saying the reverse summed up the “total shambles” of modern-day English rugby.

But Jones, the coach of the Australia team beaten in the 2003 World Cup final by England, hit back by telling Men’s Health UK: “I feel sad for him (Woodward). If that is the best thing he has to do in his life, then he hasn’t a lot to do.

“I’m 62 now and I think in pure coaching terms I am coaching better than I ever have.”


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