x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

London calling for a recharged Lyn Jones

Coach will return to the UK with 'skills that can be applied to professional rugby'

Lyn Jones is leaving his post at the British School Al Khubairat, after two years, but will keep a strong connection with the school.
Lyn Jones is leaving his post at the British School Al Khubairat, after two years, but will keep a strong connection with the school.

ABU DHABI // Lyn Jones will bring to an end two years as director of rugby at the British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) in the capital after being confirmed as the new coach of London Welsh yesterday.

The former Wales flanker will be replaced by Ed Lewsey, a professional player at Championship level in the UK, who will take the reins at the Abu Dhabi school from September.

Jones relocated to the UAE in 2009 after becoming jaded by six years of coaching in professional rugby.

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He had built an impressive reputation during his spell in charge of the Ospreys, the Magners League club, yet left Wales to take up the relatively low profile role at BSAK.

After two years spent shaping the embryonic schools game in Abu Dhabi, he is now ready to return to the sport at the elite level, and he insists his time spent here will benefit him in his new role.

"I have seized the opportunity to gain new skills that can be applied to professional rugby," Jones, who helped to set up the inaugural Abu Dhabi Schools Rugby competition, said.

"I leave with a heavy heart, but plan to maintain links with the school, while developing a strong development pathway between my new employers and schools rugby in the UAE capital."

Jones plans to hold intensive training courses for leading rugby players from BSAK at his new club in London, while also sending coaches to the capital for coaching clinics.

"My passion for the game and my desire to coach remain very strong and I hope I have a huge amount to offer the game of rugby at the highest level for many years," he said.

London Welsh are targeting promotion to the Aviva Premiership, the top level of rugby in England, and have recruited Jones as a replacement for Phil Greening, the former England hooker and sevens coach.

Paul Coackley, the principal at BSAK, believes Jones could even be a potential successor to Warren Gatland as coach of the full Wales side in the future. "It is tremendous to think we have had a potential future national coach of Wales in our midst for the last couple of years," he said. "When you appoint someone like Lyn, you realise that he won't stay for ever: he just has too much to offer the game.

"But it was a coup for us to get him for two years, and the benefits to the school and our rugby players of all ages have been enormous."

Ian Bremner, the chief executive of the Rugby Association, echoed the view that the rugby playing children of the capital were fortunate to learn from someone of Jones's standing in the game.

"BSAK were very lucky to have a coach of his calibre, and credit to Lyn for having created huge improvements in standards there," he said.

 

pradley@thenational.ae