England's World Cup winner Josh Lewsey new head of rugby in Wales
11:50am Friday 30th August 2013 in Sport
RUGBY World Cup and Heineken Cup winner Josh Lewsey has been appointed as the new head of rugby for Wales.
The 55-times capped full back and wing will join the Welsh Rugby Union at the end of September to take up his new role.
Lewsey had a glittering 19-year career as a player for Bristol, Wasps, England and the British & Irish Lions before retiring in 2009 to take up a career in management in the City and later become the Cornish Pirates chief executive.
A WRU statement said: "Having experience from business, the military and sport has given him a unique skillset primarily aimed at strategy, systems and organisational performance.
"Lewsey graduated from Bristol University with a BSc (honours) in Physiology and later achieved a second degree from the College of Law in London.
"In 2001 he was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and ultimately qualified as a Troop Commander in the Royal Artillery.
"From the age of 18 Lewsey spent most of his playing career at London Wasps and ironically could have qualified to play for Wales through parentage as his mother is originally from Cwmllynfell in South Wales.
"He left the game with the deliberate intention of broadening his skills and experiences by entering the world of business in order to differentiate himself and ultimately earn the right to return to sport to make a professional, moral and caring difference.
"In his new role with the WRU the 36-year-old joins the Executive Board of the WRU and will take operational and strategic management of the whole of the game in Wales from community to elite level outside Warren Gatland’s senior international squad.
"His experience playing at the highest level with players still active in the current era is seen as a clear advantage in his new role.
"Lewsey has previously worked extremely closely with Warren Gatland and many of his backroom staff throughout at London Wasps winning two European Cups and four National Championships.
"Although still a young man his qualifications, achievements and professional experience in his non playing career so far have set him apart as a highly skilled and focused leader."
Roger Lewis, the group chief executive of the WRU, said: “We are delighted to have been able to secure someone of the calibre of Josh as our new head of rugby.
“He is passionate about the game and undoubtedly has the experience and determination to make a huge and positive difference for Welsh rugby.
“We carried out a thorough search of the available candidates and Josh won through from an extremely strong group of final candidates.
“He joins us at a time when the international game in Wales is extremely successful and he knows we are determined to cascade that strength throughout the whole of Welsh rugby.
“Josh is particularly committed to making a significant difference within grassroots rugby across Wales, both within clubs and schools. He hasexperience driving initiatives within the community game which will be a clear advantage in his new role.
“Our goal is to continue to build and develop the strength of the elite game and focus hard on making Welsh rugby a sport everyone wants to participate in either as a player, official, volunteer or fan at all levels.
“We have built a strong team of rugby staff and have clear goals based on our rolling five year financial strategy so Josh will have a roadmap to follow in the months and years ahead.
“I know he will bring his own vision and goals to the role and that is an exciting prospect for the whole of Welsh rugby.”
Lewsey said: “I am delighted to have been offered this opportunity to play a pivotal role in ensuring the strength and wellbeing of the national sport of Wales.
“Everyone involved in rugby knows how passionate the whole of Wales is about the sport so I am fully aware of the huge responsibility I am accepting.
“This a challenge and an opportunity I am determined to seize with total commitment and I promise everyone in Wales I will give my all to the task ahead.
“A key driver for me is to balance the focus between the elite and community games in a way which establishes a long term sustainable platform for rugby in Wales.”
Wales head coach Gatland added: “I look forward to working with Josh in his new role as head of rugby for the Welsh Rugby Union.
“I know Josh well from his playing days at Wasps and he is a determined and focused individual who will bring immense passion, energy and rugby knowledge to the role.
“Josh will understand the strategies and procedures we have put in place at a senior national level and he will play a pivotal role in ensuring the whole of Welsh rugby operates in a joined up structure.”
The chairman of the WRU, David Pickering, said: “Josh Lewsey is an excellent addition to our executive team and is ideally qualified to develop Welsh rugby at all levels and throughout Wales.
“His rugby, education and business record speak for themselves and he will bring enormous energy and passion to his role as Head of Rugby.
“He has strong family ties to Wales and undoubtedly shares our passion for achieving excellence across our remit as a governing body.
“He knows a lot of hard work lies ahead but he has all the skills to make a difference in his exciting and challenging role.”
Lewsey has been the acting chief executive of the Cornish Pirates in a temporary role he took on early in 2013.
He will continue in his senior role with the Cornish Pirates until the end of his agreed contract which terminates at the end of the month and will then immediately begin work with the WRU in his new role.
As a player he was part of the 2003 Rugby World Cup squad for England and played fullback in their final victory against Australia.
He also played for England Sevens at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and won three caps for the British & Irish Lions on their 2005 tour of New Zealand.
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