Warren Abrahams has become Wales' first national black coach after taking charge of the women's team.
The South African, who spent four years within the England men’s sevens coaching set-up, will lead Wales’ preparations for next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
He will be assisted in the role by Rachel Taylor, the former Wales captain, who has been appointed as the side’s full-time skills coach and the WRU’s first professional national female coach.
Abrahams has a vast coaching CV, having spent eight years at Harlequins, where he progressed from a community coaching role to one with the club’s academy, as well as stints at the national sevens teams of Germany and Lithuania.
He previously oversaw the USA’s women’s sevens side and was preparing the team for this year’s Tokyo Olympics, but lost his role in June when USA Rugby filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Abrahams, who will also oversee the Wales women’s sevens programme throughout his three-year contract with the WRU, said the team has an opportunity to “do something very special in the next 12 months and beyond.”
“We have around 38 weeks before we’re due to get on a plane to New Zealand, which is not long but in the current climate we have to cherish the time and resources we have as you never know what’s in store,” he said.
“For me, mindset is key. Limitations are only what we put on ourselves. I realise that we all have obstacles and challenges to overcome and the current climate is a great example.
“Our players are balancing a number of aspects of their lives to ensure they perform to their optimum level, however, with all this in mind, if we take responsibility for our own actions, we are already steps ahead.”
Taylor, who earned 67 Test caps during her career, has been appointed on a one-year development contract and follows in the footsteps of Liza Burgess and Amanda Bennett as female national coaches for Wales women.
Taylor said: “Having been to three Rugby World Cups as a player, I saw how much the competition developed each time. It’s the pinnacle of women’s international rugby and for these players to have the chance to compete in New Zealand will be amazing on several levels.
“I’m excited to work with Warren. I know he will challenge me as a coach and I believe my experience and skills will help to support his aims too.”
Liza Burgess, who became the first woman to be elected to the Welsh Rugby Union board in 2019, said Taylor’s appointment was reflective of the WRU’s drive to open more doors for women at national level “even during these challenging times.”