Wales U20 head coach Jason Strange will join the Canadian national squad for the duration of their upcoming autumn campaign, the WRU can confirm.
The secondment will see the former Ebbw Vale coach link up with Kingsley Jones’s team ahead of the Canucks’ meetings with New Zealand Maori, Georgia, Spain and Fiji.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me to coach at senior international level against some quality opposition,” said Strange, whose Wales U20 team won the Grand Slam in 2016. “I’m extremely grateful to the WRU and Canada for allowing me to take it up. I feel it’s something that will offer me some new insights and allow to me return a better coach. At the same time, I’ll be able to offer Canada a new voice and a different perspective on certain things.”
The move strengthens the ties between both unions, with a joint initiative to boost age-group coaching in both countries launched earlier in the year. Geraint John, WRU Head of Rugby Performance, held a similar role with Rugby Canada, and believes the secondment will be of great value to Strange.
John said: “Jason is one of the most exciting young coaches in Wales, so to be able to offer him such top-level continuing professional development at this early stage of his career is fantastic. This will help broaden his horizons, and I have no doubt he will bring a lot to the table for Canada as well.”
Strange will be able to put his new experiences to good use as soon as Canada’s autumn fixtures conclude, with Wales U20 convening for a training camp in early December as Strange prepares his side for the 2018 U20 Six Nations.
With so many of his recent U20 players now featuring at regional and international level – including locks Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues) and Adam Beard (Ospreys), both capped on Wales’ recent summer tour – Strange said he was heartened to see the pathway bearing fruit.
“The players are starting to come through at regional level now, which is testament to the WRU age-group pathway,” said Strange. “A number of them went on that tour to New Zealand and Samoa and impressed Robin McBryde and the coaches, and now it’s fantastic to see how many have been selected for the Under Armer Series this autumn.”
Dragons prop Leon Brown and Ospreys centre Owen Watkin, both uncapped, are among a large number of U20 graduates to have been coached by Strange named in Warren Gatland’s squad this week.
“Rugby Canada is pleased to welcome Jason Strange to the men’s fifteens coaching team for the upcoming November internationals,” Rugby Canada’s General Manager of Rugby Operations and Performance Jim Dixon said.
“We are pleased to have a continued partnership with the WRU and I’m confident Jason will make a strong contribution to the team’s culture and performance alongside head coach Kingsley Jones. With our upcoming two-match Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying seres against Uruguay set for early next year, these four fixtures provide a big opportunity for our men’s programme to be prepared for an important year ahead,” added Dixon.