Cardiff Blues have announced Clive Jones as their new director of development at the region.
Following the departure of Billy Millard and the ongoing financial challenges at both Cardiff Blues and within Welsh rugby as a whole, the board have decided to take the region in a new direction with a greater emphasis on development from within.
This has begun immediately with the appointment of Jones, who will implement the realignment of the region’s player pathway.
Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland said: “Due to the ongoing financial challenges the business faces, we must put all our efforts into developing from within if we want to be competitive in the future.
“This fits into the Welsh Rugby Union’s strategy and there will be further investment into our realigned academy system to ensure we maximise the potential from within.
“We see Clive as a key component to the new direction we intend to take. Through Pontypridd, Rhondda Schools and Coleg y Cymoedd, he has an excellent track-record of both identifying and developing talent, and putting the right structures in place.
“We have nearly one million people living within the region and the rugby tradition here, from the valleys to the Vale is second to none. Clive’s role will be to create a development strategy that harnesses this talent in partnership with the Premiership clubs.”
Jones has a reputation for player development and the creation of strong rugby cultures. He orchestrated the rise of the highly successful Coleg y Cymoedd rugby academy, which has produced 34 age-grade internationals in its six-year existence.
Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson said: “I have worked with Clive in the past and I’m certain his passion and knowledge will be hugely beneficial to the region’s future success.”
With his brother Chris, he also established the renowned Rhondda rugby programme, a conveyor belt of rugby talent that now makes up 26 per cent of Danny Wilson’s senior squad.
Jones said: “My role is to create a framework for this region that best fits its geography and history – both traditional and social – that enables the undoubted talent here to be maximised.
“Our region has two distinct areas to it in terms of geography, a mountainous area to the north – the Beacons and Valleys – and a flatter coastal area to the south – Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
“These two ‘provinces’ (north and south) have distinct characteristics and though having an interdependent history, are each unique.
“They are made up of seven natural districts again each having strong identities. This is the region and it is upon these natural and historical entities we must build our framework.
“Rugby in this region has always been fiercely tribal and we need to embrace and encourage it, both between our districts and our two provinces. I am a firm believer in producing players by design not chance and our unique composition as a region lends itself to it perfectly.
“This is the region – seven Districts, two Provinces, one Region. We will build on these districts and empower these provinces with a reworking of our academy system to give more players opportunity and focus our effort and resources, in partnership with our Premiership Clubs, on the 18-22 year old bracket.
“Through this we can align the region and maximise the potential we all know lies within its boundaries.”