Scarlets have teamed up with Llandovery College in a new partnership aimed at developing elite rugby talent.
Llandovery College has a proud reputation for producing top-level Welsh rugby players with the likes of former Wales captain Gwyn Jones and current Wales and British & Irish Lions stars George North and Alun Wyn Jones among its alumni. Dafydd Hughes, Tomi Lewis and Corey Baldwin, who have represented Wales U20s and Scarlets, are also former pupils.
The newly-developed programme will build on the existing rugby programme within Llandovery College and will be headed up by former Scarlets forwards coach Ioan Cunningham who will take on the role of Director of Llandovery College Elite Rugby for an interim period.
Scarlets development pathway manager Kevin George said: “We have worked closely with Llandovery College in recent years, but this new partnership takes it to a new level, underpinning the Welsh Exiles programme to provide added value for the Scarlets development pathway.
“It is an exciting move forward for all of us.
“It is great to have a coach of Ioan’s calibre and experience leading the programme. He is someone who knows our development programme well having been part of the Academy and, of course, the senior coaching team at the Scarlets.”
Cunningham will take specific responsibility for advising the College’s rugby staff on implementing an elite rugby development programme for boys and girls, working closely with the Scarlets, the Welsh Rugby Union, the Welsh Exiles programme and the Warden of Llandovery College to deliver recruitment strategies.
He will also lead on all tactical and technical elements for Llandovery College’s first team, providing individual plans for the College’s elite rugby players.
He said: “I am excited about the prospect of helping such a historic rugby institution as Llandovery College develop this programme to help bring through the next generation of young Welsh talent into professional rugby.
“You look at the history of Llandovery College, the great Carwyn James, the former Llanelli and Lions coach, set up the Welsh Department there and a number of former pupils have gone on to represent the Scarlets, Wales and the Lions.
“I know from working with the Scarlets Academy that Llandovery College is a fantastic environment to develop, not just as a rugby player, but as a person as well.
“On a personal level, my aim is to continue to coach in the elite professional game. This is another step in my coaching career and I am looking forward to bringing my experience from the last nine years or so with the Scarlets to the role.”
Warden of Llandovery College, Dominic Findlay, added: “I am delighted to be able to work in partnership with the Scarlets to further develop the rugby programme and support at Llandovery College. This is hugely exciting and having the likes of Ioan Cunningham leading our programme, alongside the current staffing, will have a huge impact for our students.”
Scarlets general manager of rugby Jon Daniels said: “The Scarlets has long since been renowned for developing the stars of the future and thanks to the foresight and commitment of Dominic Findlay and the Board of Llandovery College our partnership will be strengthened and they will benefit from first hand exposure to the Scarlets Academy programme.”
“We are also very fortunate to have someone of Ioan’s experience to kick-start the programme. He is a very experienced coach who has developed in our pathway for many years. He has high aspirations as a coach and I know he is relishing the challenge of being in the hot seat at Llandovery College at the start of this exciting journey.”