Shaun Edwards has quit his consultancy role with London Irish with immediate effect.
The decision comes following the surprising omission of Edwards from Warren Gatlandâ€™s coaching staff for this summerâ€™s Lions tour of Australia.
Edwards had been working for London Irish one day a week, on top of his duties for Wales, as a defensive consultant though the Exiles had still struggled and have the worst defence in the league.
His decision to step down followed a consultation with the Chief Executive of the WRU, Roger Lewis, and is likely that with Gatland and Rob Howley focusing on the Lions, the WRU will want Edwards to have his sole attention on Wales.
In a statement, Edwards said:
“After consultation with Roger Lewis, CEO of the WRU, I am to concentrate solely on Welsh rugby in the build-up to Rugby World Cup 2015, thus my consultancy work will cease with immediate effect.”
It will be a blow to London Irish who will lose a man recognised as one of the best defensive coaches in world rugby, they can ill afford for their defence to be weaken.
Director of Rugby Brian Smith will take over defensive duties, and he spoke highly of Edwards when discussing his departure:
“I have always been a supporter of Shaun Edwards and that will not change. He is a world-class defence coach and has put in place structures, strategies and techniques that we will take forward.â€
â€œ I will step up on the defensive side for the remainder of this season. We would like to thank him for his efforts over the last six months and wish him well for the future.”
London Irish lie 11th in the Aviva Premiership, one point clear of bottom club Sale.