The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has named ex-USA Women’s assistant sevens coach Warren Abrahams as Wales Women head coach.
Former Wales captain Rachel Taylor is appointed as full-time women’s national skills coach.
Abrahams is the WRU’s first black national coach, while Taylor is the first professional national female coach.
“This is an exciting time to be part of the Wales programme,” said Abrahams.
The appointments begin work with immediate effect to put preparations in place for next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
South Africa-born Abrahams was also part of the England Men’s Sevens coaching team for four years, while fulfilling roles at Harlequins as academy coach and Premiership sevens head coach prior to heading to America.
He will be responsible for the planning, implementation and delivery of the coaching programme for both the 15s and sevens international programmes on a three-year contract.
“We have an opportunity to do something very special in the next 12 months and beyond,” said Abrahams.
“It’s my first international 15s head coach role at this level, but I feel I’ve seen, experienced and learned enough to create a high-performance environment that provides memorable experiences.
“We have around 38 weeks before we’re due to get on a plane to New Zealand [for the 2021 World Cup] which is not long, but in the current climate we have to cherish the time and resources we have as you never know what’s in store.
“Mindset is key. Limitations are only what we put on ourselves. I realise that we all have obstacles and challenges to overcome and the current climate is a great example.
“Our players are balancing a number of aspects of their lives to ensure they perform to their optimum level.
“However, with all this in mind, if we take responsibility for our own actions we are already steps ahead.”
Taylor has been appointed on a one-year development contract and follows in the footsteps of Liza Burgess and Amanda Bennett as female national coaches for Wales Women.
“I’m really looking forward to working within our international programme as I continue to develop as a coach,” said Taylor.
“I believe my experience working with both the WRU community team and more recently the RGC performance team during the last five years will prove invaluable.
“It’s given me the chance to watch and work with a variety of coaches plus support the development of male and female age grade and club players.
“I’m looking forward to developing those connections and supporting the transition of players into international athletes.
“Having been to three Rugby World Cups as a player, I saw how much the competition developed each time.
“It’s the pinnacle of women’s international rugby and for these players to have the chance to compete in New Zealand will be amazing on several levels.
“I’m excited to work with Warren. I know he will challenge me as a coach and I believe my experience and skills will help to support his aims too.”
Abrahams and Taylor are taking a team that failed to win a game in the 2020 Six Nations and have seen caretaker coaches Chris Horsman and Darren Edwards guide the squad since Rowland Phillips left as head coach, while Ryan Jones has moved on as performance director.
“Warren and Rachel are key, strategic appointments for us, not only for women’s rugby in Wales, but in terms of our standing in the global game,” said WRU interim chief executive Steve Phillips.
“The current pandemic has impacted all areas of our organisation along with the rest of the sporting and entertainment world.
“However, it is vital women’s sport isn’t disproportionally affected and we took the important decision to continue with the planned investments into the women’s game.”