The two-way street between Wales, the strongest international team in the northern hemisphere, and Wasps, once the best club side in Europe, has seen a good deal of traffic in recent years: Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards coached the Londoners before heading across the Severn Bridge; the former Wales captain David Young is currently running the show at Adams Park and has pulled in a good number of his countrymen to help out.
There was another striking example when Josh Lewsey, the World Cup-winning England full-back and long-serving Wasps stalwart, joined the Welsh Rugby Union in a senior capacity. The 36-year-old one-time soldier, occasional mountaineer, City trader and Cornish Pirates chief executive (he left that job a few days ago) is the Six Nations champions’ new head of rugby, with responsibilities stretching deep down into the grass-roots of the game in the principality.
“Josh joins us at a time when the international game here is extremely successful and he knows we are determined to see that strength cascade down through the whole of Welsh rugby,” said Roger Lewis, the WRU chief executive. “His experience of driving initiatives within the community game will be a clear advantage. We have built a strong team of rugby staff and have clear goals based on our rolling five-year financial strategy, so Josh will have a roadmap to follow in the months and years ahead. I am sure he will bring his own vision.”
Lewsey, who holds a degree in physiology from Bristol University and is also a law graduate, made his England debut in New Zealand on the 1998 “tour of hell”. He was not always a first choice for Sir Clive Woodward in the run-up to the 2003 global tournament, but by the time events unfolded in Australia he was considered an important ingredient.
“Everyone knows how passionate the whole of Wales is about rugby, so I’m fully aware of the huge responsibility I am accepting,” he commented. “A key driver for me is to balance the elite and community games in a way that establishes a long-term sustainable platform for the sport here. I promise everyone I will give my all to the task.”