The Welsh Rugby Union’s Head of Rugby Josh Lewsey has announced his resignation and will be leaving his post from January 2016.
The Group Chief Executive of the WRU, Martyn Phillips has thanked him for his dedication and positive impact on the management and development of Welsh rugby.
In his remaining time with the WRU he will work closely with the Group Chief Executive to ensure a continuation of the many positive changes which have occurred over the last two years.
Lewsey was approached to take the position in 2013 and, having worked as a management consultant leading strategic change projects across various industries, set about reviewing and then addressing some of the key challenges in the game.
Since then, the WRU has restructured their development provision, been through a comprehensive strategic review and is addressing retention in the club game, particularly coach and referee development and the transition from junior through youth to adult rugby – alongside other key initiatives.
In addition, significant progress has been made to align the efforts and competitions of the Elite pathway.
Lewsey identified a window of opportunity up into the 2015 Rugby World Cup based on sustained successes and set about establishing the necessary strategy, structures and systems to underpin the long term needs of both the elite and community game.
From a rugby perspective this focussed on two aspects: The first was to utilise rugby’s culture and values to focus on developing good people. The second was to build an aligned system of development in which the infrastructure of school, club and representative rugby could coexist, with centrally disseminated advice for the encouragement of best practice, thereby connecting the advice of the national team through to the grassroots level.
The School Club Hub programme is also a key element, with 80 full time officers deployed across Wales linking schools with local clubs. The aim is to expand this to at least 100, which would also include universities, which would equate to coverage of 90% of the clubs in Wales and thereby underpin the needs of both the Elite and Community game.
Lewsey stated: “I came to work here with a specific focus in mind, seeing the opportunity and need to address the underlying structures whilst the National team were so successful – to attempt to 'fix the roof while the sun is shining'.
“Also, my family are from Wales and I know the difference sport, but especially Rugby, can make to people’s lives and local communities.
“Those factors can transcend education, health and society which has been a big focus for us.
“That is something we all feel passionate about and to that end, I feel honoured to have worked with some special people and collectively we should feel very proud of the progress we have made.
“Clearly there is still lots to address, not least some misperceptions but plans are already underway to do so and, though such changes will take a while to have their full effect, with Martyn now taking the reigns I’m confident that the momentum can be maintained.
“I can leave with these things in good hands. Likewise, we have some pathway matters to conclude before year end, so if we can also reach a collective approach there then the foundations of Welsh Rugby really will be moving to a good place.
“To avoid speculation and be entirely honest, alongside the above reaching a stage that it can be self sustaining, there have been some developments over the last year relating to personal matters, meaning that I couldn’t continue to be in Wales on a full time basis."