Star-maker Ioan's time with Wales must come
The Rugby Paper|November 22, 2020
There used to be a time when Wales led the world in pioneering coaches, when Carwyn James, Clive Rowlands and Ray Williams changed the mentality of Test rugby.
PETER JACKSON

Half a century later, the same country is so far behind the eight-ball in question that Welsh head coaches of any description, let alone of the pioneering variety, are as hard to find as words of praise from Edward Jones over the legality of the Irish scrum.

James applied invention and the sharpest analytical mind to outwit the All Blacks in 1971 during a Lions series like no other. Rowlands, the motivator par excellence, made Wales the most consistent team in Europe during the three years before the Lions tour and the three years afterwards.

While they were presiding over famous deeds on the field, Williams made his mark off it as the game’s first fully-paid coaching organiser. A schoolteacher from Bangor who played for Moseley, among other clubs, he went to work with an evangelical zeal.

As a player, Williams suffered from the same handicap as James. Each had the misfortune to be pretenders to a 1950’s fly-half throne occupied by the peerless Cliff Morgan. James at least got his cap, against Australia in 1958; Williams had to make do with a final trial before he began thinking about an entirely new concept.

In a strictly amateur era ruled over by hidebound Unions, coaching was a dirty word. It smacked of professionalism at a time when to spend too much time preparing for a match was not the done thing old boy, hence the rule forbidding teams from assembling until 48 hours before kick-off.

Wales, mercifully, had a few within their ranks of sufficient vision to recognise coaching as the next big thing. They ignored the tut-tutting from Twickenham, Murrayfield and Lansdowne Road and hired Williams in 1967 to start spreading the word.

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