McBryde handed Wales reins as Howley takes Lions role


Robin McBryde will lead Wales on their tour to the Pacific Islands next year.

Forwards coach McBryde has been entrusted with the position after interim boss Rob Howley was appointed to Warren Gatland's backroom staff for the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

Howley only took over senior responsibilities from Gatland in September but will not be present for a Welsh tour that includes matches against Tonga and Samoa.

McBryde will now take charge of Wales for the third time in June, having previously covered for Gatland and Howley in 2009 and 2013 when they were involved with the Lions.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips, who hopes to bolster coaching resources for the tour, said: "Rob Howley joins Warren Gatland's British and Irish Lions coaching team with our best wishes, as the Lions embark upon one of the toughest and most high-profile campaigns in the world game.

"Both coaches can only benefit from the coaching experiences available to them and, in turn, we know the Wales national squad set-up will be able to reap the rewards of that experience upon their return to us.

"We have a clear strategy in Welsh rugby, with coaching and coach development a central priority at all levels of the game.

"It will be of huge benefit to Welsh rugby in the long term that, within a small window during their coaching careers, we are able to provide significant development opportunities for Warren, Rob and Robin.

"We are also at an advanced stage in discussions with a number of other individuals about the summer tour and hope to be in a position to confirm the full make-up of the management team next week."

McBryde added: "The tour is an exciting opportunity for the squad, it is always an honour to represent your country and to do so overseas carries with it extra responsibility.

"We will be facing two passionate rugby nations and it will be a huge challenge for the players, but an opportunity for them to show what they are able to do in the red jersey.

"For me it is another exciting opportunity to lead the team. It is something I have thoroughly enjoyed in the past and I'm really looking forward to doing it again at the end of the season.

"As is natural in a Lions year, we will inevitably have some senior players missing, but our focus will very much be on discovering future potential alongside maintaining current standards and, hopefully, coming away with two good performances and wins."