Cobner to look for dynamism in Wales

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

ROBERT COLE

The Welsh has extended its raid on English public schools by appointing the head of sport at Oundle, the former flanker Terry Cobner, as its first director of rugby.

The man who led Pontypool for 10 consecutive seasons beat off 59 candidates to win the pounds 50,000 per-annum post and follows the Union's raid on Clifton College to net Kevin Bowring as its national coach.

Many thought the appointments came the wrong way round, especially as Cobner will be in overall charge of Wales' new Directorate of Rugby at Cardiff Institute, but the big puzzle is what will happen to the current technical director, Jeff Young, and his 10 regional development officers. Geoff Evans, the chairman of the powerful technical sub-committee, said that Cobner would head-up "an embryonic structure that will need to evolve".

One of Cobner's first tasks will be to get around to the coaches at the First and Second Division clubs to talk about the need for a more dynamic approach to Welsh rugby.

"There is a lot that is good within Welsh rugby, but there is also a lot that isn't. For instance, our set-pieces are adequate, but where everything breaks down is when we get away from scrum and line-out,"Cobner said. "All the great sides have a number of world- class players and we had that in Wales in the 1970s. But today we don't have that nucleus.

"However, there are structures in Wales now that will enable players to be fast-tracked to the international stage, and it is my job to help develop international players over the next four years."

n The referees' chief, Robert Horner, has called for English international match officials to be given pay parity with players.

n Wasps have successfully appealed to the Rugby Football Union to have their re-arranged Courage League home encounter with West Hartlepool on 13 January postponed because of England commitments.

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