Premiership - England on alert as Edwards quits Wasps

Wed, 02 Nov 12:44:00 2011

Shaun Edwards has quit his post as Wasps head coach as speculation grows over a potential role with England, while veteran lock Simon Shaw has also left the club.

Shaun Edwards - Wasps - 0

Edwards, one of the most successful players in the game during his days in rugby league with Wigan, joined union outfit Wasps as backs coach in 2001 and became head coach soon after.

In the last three years he has combined his job with that of defence coach for Wales, who he helped to the World Cup semi-finals last month.

His contract with Wales has now expired and after Wednesday's announcement from Wasps he is a free agent.

With England's coaching set-up under review following their disappointing World Cup, and with manager Martin Johnson's future unclear beyond the end of his contract that runs out in two months, Edwards could be in line for a job at Twickenham.

He was offered a role as coach of the second-string Saxons side four years ago but rejected it.

He had been in discussions about his future with Wasps and Wednesday's announcement was widely expected.

"Edwards departs having been part of a glorious era at London Wasps, helping the club to win four Premiership titles, two Heineken Cups, one Anglo-Welsh Cup and a Parker Pen trophy in over a decade of coaching," the club said in a statement.

"He is widely renowned as one of the world's top defence coaches, having been largely credited with creating the famous 'blitz' defence that played a significant part in an era of title winning at Wasps.

Wasps director and former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio said: "Shaun is rightly held in great esteem and high affection by everyone associated with the club and he is leaving a massive legacy here.

"He has developed into one of the most highly respected coaches in world rugby and both the club and Shaun himself feel that now is the right time for him to go on and continue to develop himself as a coach in another environment and perhaps at a higher level."

Wasps CEO Chris Thomas said the split had not been a financial decision but one "solely based on what is best for both parties with Shaun keen to test himself in a new environment."

Edwards, 45, who also had a coaching role with the British and Irish Lions in South Africa in 2009, said: "I will always have fond memories of my time with Wasps and feel ready and excited for some new challenges ahead of me.

"The experiences of the recent British and Irish Lions tour and the recent World Cup have given me more knowledge than I have ever had."

Meanwhile, second row Shaw has decided to abandon the contract extension he signed before the World Cup to finish his career overseas.

French club Toulon are believed to be favourites to sign the 38-year-old, who is keen to secure a lucrative deal to end his career.

In a statement, Wasps said: "Simon Shaw signed a contract extension with London Wasps in August, before leaving for the Rugby World Cup.

"Simon requested that the club did not announce this at the time for personal reasons, which the club was happy to comply with.

"Upon his return, he informed the club last week that he would like to finish his career overseas. The club are very disappointed with this news and await an official approach for the player."

PA Sport

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