Former Wales star Rachel Taylor is hoping she can help nurture the country’s next generation of talent, after being appointed as the first female Welsh Rugby Union regional academy skills coach.
The 36-year-old – who won 67 caps for Wales and captained the side at the Women’s Six Nations Championship – will work with both male and female talent in North Wales in the first role of its kind.
Taylor will work alongside new RGC head coach Matt Silva and under academy manager Josh Leach, as the trio look to unearth prospects in the mould of North Wales heroes such as George North and Gwenllian Pyrs.
Taylor’s appointment represents another breakthrough for her and the women’s game after she became Colwyn Bay men’s first female head coach in 2018.
The former Bristol and Dragons back-rower – who will combine her new role with coaching the Crawshay’s and the Barbarians women’s sides – is excited to be able to pass on her experiences.
“It’s brand new, it’s exciting and it’s challenging,” she said.
“We’re big up here in North Wales on creating the right culture and environment for young players to develop and catch up with other rugby programmes across the world.
“There are massive times ahead and this new skills role will help put the male and female players in the best position for Welsh selection.
“It’ll be a learning curve, but I get to learn from an existing male programme, and it would be nice to think we can do the same with the women’s agenda.
“We also want to create a pathway for more female coaches and referees to come through, too.”
As well as contributing her expertise, Taylor recognises her new position will develop her coaching ability that she can take into her other roles.
She said: “I’m thrilled this is an out-and-out coaching role and I certainly don’t see my career pathway changing in the foreseeable future.
“I’ve already taken on board a few new drills and techniques – free-flowing rugby is very much the style at RGC and hopefully I can take it into the Crawshay’s and the Barbarians.
“It’s another great opportunity to learn and hopefully I can have an impact, too.”
Dave Roberts will take over Taylor’s former Rugby Coordinator role, with current Wales wing Jess Kavanagh stepping in as Game Changer in North Wales to add to the number of women involved in the setup.
Taylor added: “Jess will be the perfect role model to get even more girls into the game.
“It’s an exciting reshuffle and hopefully we can bring the best of our old roles into our new roles.”