Wasps contact Shaun Edwards over possible return despite agreement to take Wigan Warriors head coach job

The current Wales defence coach will not be held to his verbal agreement to join Wigan if he doesn’t want to and former club Wasps have spoken to him over returning to the club next year

Jack de Menezes
Monday 25 March 2019 14:07
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Wasps have spoken to former coach Shaun Edwards about the prospect of him returning to the club instead of taking up his planned appointment with rugby league side Wigan Warriors, according to Dai Young.

The current Wasps director of rugby Young revealed at the weekend that the Premiership club have spoken to Edwards, who will leave his position as defence coach of the Wales national team at the end of year after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Edwards, 52, had agreed to return to rugby league and his former club Wigan to become their head coach for the 2020 season after an announcement was made nine months ago that revealed his Wigan teammate Adrian lam would fill the role this year following Shaun Wane’s departure.

But Edwards appeared to perform a U-turn on that decision following Wales’ Six Nations Grand Slam triumph earlier this month, and he revealed that after not receiving a contract offer from Wigan, he made himself available to all clubs in rugby union and league as a free agent for next year.

Wasps are keen on taking Edwards back after he left the club to follow Warren Gatland to Wales in 2011, while The Independent understands that Bath are also keeping a close eye on the situation.

"Shaun would be fantastic for us," said Young, who was speaking after Saturday’s defeat by Gloucester that leaves Wasps eighth in the Premiership table and a distant 12 points off the top four.

"We have spoken to him and made our interest known in someone who is a big part of the club's history, but I know we are one of a number of options he has.

"I do not know where we stand and we will be talking to him when he is back from holiday."

Edwards won three Premiership titles during his decade-long stint with Wasps as well as two Heineken Cup wins, and he has since been part of the 2012 and 2019 Grand Slams as well as Wales’ Six Nations title success in 2013. But he will not remain in his current role after Japan 2019 after claiming himself that incoming coach Wayne Pivac decided to “go in a different direction” – which Pivac disputed by responding the decision lies with Edwards after he verbally agreed to join Wigan.

“Shaun has done a fantastic job – we all know that. He’s a very, very good defence coach,” Pivac said. “Shaun was the first person I spoke with. He indicated early on he was under pressure from Wigan and that the timeline that was imposed on us were unrealistic.

Shaun Edwards has been offered the chance to return to Wasps next year

“I talked around a process we would be going through. That was pre-autumn and pre-Six Nations. Shaun signed with Wigan and that put paid to the discussions going any further.

“Shaun knew he was on the shortlist, that he was the incumbent. We’d had a meeting and subsequent conversations. We are a little bit disappointed that’s come out but we are certainly not going to let it detract from a great result (the Grand Slam).”

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan has spoken directly with Edwards, who is now away on a post-Six Nations holiday, and agreed to give him time to come to a decision over his future. The Super League club confirmed that no contract had been signed but that a verbal agreement and handshake between the pair had been deemed as enough to secure the appointment.

Dai Young revealed that Wasps have spoken to Shaun Edwards about returning to the club

But Lenagan also revealed last week that they will not hold Edwards to the move if it is not what he wants, and that they have known each other long enough to waive any legal ramifications that would potentially come with a U-turn.

“Rather than debating the merits and legalities of an oral or written agreement, I have had constructive dialogue with Shaun this week to make it clear that, despite our desire for him to take up the Wigan Warriors head coach role as agreed, we would not attempt to hold Shaun to any agreement - disputed or otherwise - if he now preferred to take up a different option,” Lenagan said in a club statement issued on Friday.

Wigan will not hold Edwards to the move if he doesn't want to complete it 

“During our conversations, Shaun asked for more time to consider his options. I agreed to his request and fully understand his reasons for doing so.

“It is obvious we need to clear up this situation as quickly as possible in a dignified manner for the best interests of Wigan Warriors and Shaun. It is proving to be a difficult and emotive situation for us all to navigate, but I am determined to provide our loyal fans with the clarity they deserve once Shaun has come to his decision. We will support whatever decision he reaches.”

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