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On This Day in 2006 – Gareth Jenkins was appointed new Wales coach

Gareth Jenkins’ reign as Wales coach lasted just 20 Tests (David Davies/PA)
Gareth Jenkins’ reign as Wales coach lasted just 20 Tests (David Davies/PA)

Gareth Jenkins was hailed as “the right man at the right time” after being appointed as Wales coach on this day in 2006.

Jenkins succeeded Mike Ruddock, who led Wales to a Six Nations Grand Slam a year earlier, signing a two-year contract to incorporate the 2007 World Cup.

Jenkins was recommended for the post by a five-man selection panel which  included Welsh Rugby Union chairman David Pickering.

Gareth Jenkins
Gareth Jenkins (left) and David Pickering at his unveiling as Wales coach (Western Mail)

Pickering said: “What shone through for us was Gareth’s fantastic passion and vision for the game. He is a coach of the highest calibre, and he has had success over many years with Llanelli.

“He is the right man at the right time to take Wales forward. We went out to seek the best man for the job – it is what we said from day one – and we know we have got the best person for the job.”

Jenkins, a firm favourite with Welsh supporters, enjoyed considerable success at Llanelli, in addition to being assistant Wales coach when they were crowned 1994 Five Nations champions.

He also helped Ian McGeechan mould an unbeaten midweek team during the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, an achievement that further raised his profile in coaching circles.

Jenkins, who was a member of the Llanelli team that famously beat New Zealand at Stradey Park in 1972, said: “This is something to which I have aspired to for a long, long time. It is a job I would have been disappointed at not filling at some stage of my career.

Jenkins’ reign, though, lasted just 20 Tests, with Wales winning only six games before he left the post in September 2007.

Wales
Wales players after being knocked out of the 2007 World Cup by Fiji in Nantes (David Jones/PA)

A Six Nations victory over England was the highlight – it saved Wales from a whitewash in the 2007 tournament – but he could not oversee anything like a successful World Cup campaign.

Wales beat Canada and Japan in their group, but defeat to Fiji meant they did not reach the quarter-finals and Jenkins was dismissed the following morning, being informed of the WRU’s decision before his World Cup squad had even left France.

Jenkins was succeeded by New Zealander Warren Gatland, who led Wales to a sustained period of success that included Six Nations titles, Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-final appearances.