Departing defence coach Hayward no scapegoat for Wales’ form, says Pivac, Newsline

CARDIFF – Wales coach Wayne Pivac has taken responsibility for defence coach Byron Hayward’s shock departure ahead of their Autumn Nations Cup campaign, saying it was necessary to help get the team’s 2023 World Cup preparations back on track.

Former Wales flyhalf Hayward, who joined Pivac’s coaching staff in November last year, departed by mutual agreement after their disappointing Six Nations campaign in which they lost four of their five matches to finish second-bottom.

“It was a very hard decision,” Pivac told British media. “We reviewed the Six Nations, as you would expect, and had an honest conversation. I felt now was the time to make a change ahead of a new season and Autumn Cup series.

“It was made on the basis of what was best going forward to the World Cup. We were not getting what we wanted out of our defence.”

Wales have lost five of their six competitive matches since Pivac took over from Warren Gatland last year but the 58-year-old coach played down suggestions that Hayward had been made a scapegoat for their dismal recent form.

“The decision in relation to Byron was one I took and I informed the necessary people at the time… I can see that it looks a mess, but what matters is staying focused on a daily basis,” Pivac added.

“The decision was made because we were not heading in the right direction with the defence. Byron has not been made a scapegoat because we always put the team first. It was a tough call, but I stand by it.”

Wales kick off their Autumn Nations Cup campaign away to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Friday. They will then play Georgia and England before the finals weekend.