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Ruddock resignation rocks Welsh rugby

By Alex Lowe
MIKE RUDDOCK has resigned as Wales head coach less than a year after taking them to their first Grand Slam in 27 years.

At a hastily arranged Press conference, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff the Welsh Rugby Union announced 46-year-old Ruddock had left the job as of immediate effect, citing family reasons.

Skills coach Scott Johnson was installed as caretaker coach for the remaining three games of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

The Ruddock resignation will send shockwaves through Welsh rugby, especially as he was seen the architect of last year’s Grand Slam.

And it comes just over 48 hours after Wales beat Scotland 28-18 to get their Six Nations title defence back on course following the opening weekend defeat by England.

"Mike informed me today that he will not be seeking to extend his contract as Wales national coach," said WRU chief executive Steve Lewis.

"His announcement, and the timing of it, has obviously come as a shock and will be a blow to Welsh rugby as a whole.

"It is public knowledge that we have been in contract negotiations with Mike for some time in order to get an extension through to the 2007 World Cup and beyond.

"We had reached agreement on those terms of the contract, but clearly Mike has indicated reasons for not signing which are beyond those which are capable of negotiation and I understand his position."

In a statement Ruddock said: "After consultation with my family, I have made the decision to stand down as national coach.

"On that basis, I have decided to withdraw from contract talks to take Wales to the 2007 World Cup in France. This has been a tough decision to make but I have decided to put my family first.

"What I have found during my two years as coach is that the position is more than a job. That has meant I have spent long periods away from my family, in camp and overseas.

"As a consequence, I felt the intense build-up to next year’s World Cup would mean more time away from my family. That is something, on refection, I would like to avoid."

Ruddock was one of Wales’ more successful coaches with a record of 13 wins and seven defeats in his 20 capped games in charge.

Although Ruddock has cited family reasons for his resignation there has been talk of rifts with Wales players.

That appeared to come to a head last week when Ruddock was left to take a press conference alone after the players, led by skipper Gareth Thomas, refused to attend until one particular journalist had left the building.

Skills coach Scott Johnson will take over with immediate effect for the rest of the Six Nations campaign.

"We felt it was in the best interests of the team, and indeed of Mike himself, if he stepped down from preparing the team for the remainder of the Six Nations," said Lewis.

"As a result of that I’ve asked Scott Johnson to lead the preparations for the balance of the Six Nations."

Whether Johnson continues beyond this season is up in the air. The WRU are desperate to keep him on board, but Johnson has pressing family matters in his native Australia.

He has been heavily linked with a role in the Wallabies’ coaching set-up.

 

Ruddock resignation rocks Welsh rugby

By Alex Lowe
MIKE RUDDOCK has resigned as Wales head coach less than a year after taking them to their first Grand Slam in 27 years.

At a hastily arranged Press conference, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff the Welsh Rugby Union announced 46-year-old Ruddock had left the job as of immediate effect, citing family reasons.

Skills coach Scott Johnson was installed as caretaker coach for the remaining three games of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

The Ruddock resignation will send shockwaves through Welsh rugby, especially as he was seen the architect of last year’s Grand Slam.

And it comes just over 48 hours after Wales beat Scotland 28-18 to get their Six Nations title defence back on course following the opening weekend defeat by England.

"Mike informed me today that he will not be seeking to extend his contract as Wales national coach," said WRU chief executive Steve Lewis.

"His announcement, and the timing of it, has obviously come as a shock and will be a blow to Welsh rugby as a whole.

"It is public knowledge that we have been in contract negotiations with Mike for some time in order to get an extension through to the 2007 World Cup and beyond.

"We had reached agreement on those terms of the contract, but clearly Mike has indicated reasons for not signing which are beyond those which are capable of negotiation and I understand his position."

In a statement Ruddock said: "After consultation with my family, I have made the decision to stand down as national coach.

"On that basis, I have decided to withdraw from contract talks to take Wales to the 2007 World Cup in France. This has been a tough decision to make but I have decided to put my family first.

"What I have found during my two years as coach is that the position is more than a job. That has meant I have spent long periods away from my family, in camp and overseas.

"As a consequence, I felt the intense build-up to next year’s World Cup would mean more time away from my family. That is something, on refection, I would like to avoid."

Ruddock was one of Wales’ more successful coaches with a record of 13 wins and seven defeats in his 20 capped games in charge.

Although Ruddock has cited family reasons for his resignation there has been talk of rifts with Wales players.

That appeared to come to a head last week when Ruddock was left to take a press conference alone after the players, led by skipper Gareth Thomas, refused to attend until one particular journalist had left the building.

Skills coach Scott Johnson will take over with immediate effect for the rest of the Six Nations campaign.

"We felt it was in the best interests of the team, and indeed of Mike himself, if he stepped down from preparing the team for the remainder of the Six Nations," said Lewis.

"As a result of that I’ve asked Scott Johnson to lead the preparations for the balance of the Six Nations."

Whether Johnson continues beyond this season is up in the air. The WRU are desperate to keep him on board, but Johnson has pressing family matters in his native Australia.

He has been heavily linked with a role in the Wallabies’ coaching set-up.