Scarlets appoint former Wales assistant as new performance director in big announcement

-Credit: (Image: Riley Sports Photography)
-Credit: (Image: Riley Sports Photography)

The Scarlets have appointed former Wales assistant coach Leigh Jones as their new rugby performance director.

Jones will work alongside head coach Dwayne Peel as the Scarlets look to bounce back from a disappointing season. The 64-year-old has extensive experience in high-performance rugby environments and most recently led rugby operations at Leicester, helping them win the Gallagher Premiership in 2022. He was also Eddie Jones' assistant with Japan when they beat South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in what was the biggest upset in rugby history.

Jones' early coaching career included coaching Wales (defence and forwards coach) in 2000-2002 under Graham Henry, which included Peel’s first call-up into the Welsh squad for a development tour of Japan and Canada in 2000. He also spent six years with Hong Kong rugby, as head coach, then head of its Elite Rugby Programme, helping them qualify for the repechage for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and reaching their highest world ranking of 21.

SIGN UP: Get the new exclusive Inside Welsh rugby newsletter for full insight into what's really going on around all the big issues. This special offer will get you full access for the entire year for just £10 instead of £40.

Jones was then appointed as General Manager of Rugby Operations in Hong Kong, responsible for the strategic direction of both men’s and women’s 15s and 7s rugby high performance platforms.

“It is a privilege to join the Scarlets," said Jones.

"It is a club with such a rich and successful heritage in rugby and one known and respected globally for developing some of Wales’ best players over the decades. The exciting part is there are more talented Scarlets players to come through in the future.

"I’m looking forward to playing my part in helping clear the runway to support Dwayne and his team to see this great club back where it belongs on the field. My role at Scarlets will be very similar to my work with Leicester Tigers, where I was responsible for overall rugby operations, across pathways, analysis, medical, physical development, recruitment and women’s rugby working closely to support the head coach.

“At this point in my career, my focus and motivation is using my experience to help develop people - both coaches and rugby support staff, equipping and supporting them to be the best they can be and helping them reach their potential. I am excited and keen to get started and look forward to working with the coaches and players when pre-season starts in early July.

"It’s good to be working back in Welsh rugby at a time when there’s a lot of hard work ahead, important contributions to be made and significant challenges to face.”

Jones will work alongside Peel in helping build and deliver a winning team based on a strong vision and performance culture.

He will focus on delivering the highest professional standards, systems and processes that underpin and support Scarlets’ whole rugby environment, as well as leading rugby backroom functions, future recruitment planning and alignment with the Scarlets rugby pathway. As head coach Peel continues to have full responsibility for all rugby team matters on the field, including team and individual performance, game plan and model, selection and the rugby programme and will make final decisions on signing and retaining players in the squad.

“Leigh has a depth and range of experience delivering world-class rugby performance programmes so he understands fully what it takes to build a winning team," said Peel. "We are looking forward to working closely with him and for the knowledge and experience he’ll bring to our rugby environment.

“We are working hard on building a competitive squad, with exciting new players keen to make an impact joining us this summer plus we are retaining a group of key Scarlets leaders on the field and our best emerging talent. With Leigh’s appointment as well, there’s a lot to be excited and positive about as Scarlets ahead of a new season.”