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Wales rugby team's defence coach Shaun Edwards to leave after W-Cup

Welsh Rugby Union announces Englishman's intention not to renew contract after World Cup in Japan

Wales rugby team's defence coach Shaun Edwards has decided not to sign a new contract and will leave the team after the World Cup in Japan this year, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said yesterday.

Edwards had last month reversed a decision to become head coach of English Super League club Wigan Warriors, with British media reporting that he would extend his stay with Wales after their successful Six Nations campaign this year.

Considered among the game's foremost defence coaches, he has been linked to roles with England and France following the Six Nations campaign in which Wales conceded the fewest number of points and tries.

The 52-year-old has helped Wales win three Six Nations Grand Slam crowns since joining as defence coach in 2008 and will be part of outgoing coach Warren Gatland's staff until the World Cup, which starts on Sept 20.

Wales are in Pool D of the World Cup along with two-time champions Australia, Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay.

"After more than 10 years with Wales, this has been an incredibly difficult decision to reach but I won't be renewing my contract," Edwards said in a statement.

"I'd like to thank Warren and the WRU for the opportunity I have had working with the national team. We won four Six Nations titles during my time with Wales, but I hope and believe that the best days are yet to come and I'm fully focused on seeing what we can achieve in Japan."

Gatland, who is also set to step down after the World Cup, was pleased that Edwards' future had been settled.

"Shaun has been an important part of the Wales set-up over the past 11 years for what has been a hugely rewarding time for Welsh rugby," Gatland said.

"It's pleasing that we can draw a line under the speculation regarding Shaun's future with this announcement and we can look forward to preparing the squad for the RWC and the tournament itself."

Wayne Pivac, who will take over from Gatland, said: "When Shaun's availability post-RWC became apparent, we worked with him to offer him a new contract which he was happy with and for him to be part of the new look coaching team.

"Shaun has decided not to take that contract, which we must respect and we wish Shaun the best in what lies ahead for him post-Wales."

Meanwhile, Springbok Flip van der Merwe said yesterday that he will retire after ASM Clermont Auvergne's Top 14 season ends.

"I'm going to stop at the end of the season, when your body tells you stop, you have to know how to listen to it and be honest", said the lock, who turns 34 in June.

Van der Merwe joined Clermont in 2015 and won the Top 14 with the club in 2017. He will play his 80th match for the club against Perpignan tomorrow.

Clermont are second in the table and are on course for a bye in the first round of the play-offs. They are also in the European Challenge Cup final and face La Rochelle, in Newcastle on May 10.

Before hanging up his boots "two trophies would be nice," said van der Merwe, who played 37 times for South Africa and won a Super Rugby title with the Bulls.- AFP, REUTERS

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