Former international winger Mark Jones has been named Wales Under-20 interim head coach following the resignation of Byron Hayward.
The 47-cap international previously served as part of Wales’ men’s senior coaching set-up under Rob Howley and Robin McBryde.
Wales lost all five of their 2023 Under-20 Six Nations games under Hayward, finishing in sixth place overall, and are currently preparing to face New Zealand, France and Japan at the World Rugby U20 Championship in June.
And Jones admitted that he is delighted to get the opportunity to bring through a new exciting generation of Welsh talent.
“From my perspective, it is a really good opportunity and I’m excited about getting back to coaching after what happened at Worcester,” he said.
🏴 Mark Jones has been appointed interim men’s U20 coach
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) May 11, 2023
“It’s a short-term role taking the boys to a World Cup. I’m excited about making a great environment for the boys and hopefully trying to get them to play with a smile on their face out on the field which is the key.”
Jones was most recently at Worcester Warriors where he was responsible for defence and kicking game.
Wales’ U20 side lost two of their games in the 2023 Six Nations by four points or fewer and Jones was encouraged by what he saw.
“The results probably don’t reflect the potential in the group,” he said, “Clearly, they were beaten five times during the tournament but there were moments in the games up until 60 minutes where they were very competitive in all games, probably apart from the France game.
“There are building blocks in place, and I’m just wanting to try and take them to the next level.
“I think there is an opportunity to try and make the boys better. We haven’t got a lot of time with them but the time we have, we have got to make sure we utilise it really effectively.”
The 43-year-old started his coaching career at Scarlets before taking charge of RGC 1404 following a spell with English club Rotherham Titans.
He was part of the coaching team that led Namibia to the 2019 Rugby World Cup before joining the set-up at Super Rugby side Crusaders in New Zealand.