Cardiff Blues have confirmed the signing of Wales wing Josh Adams from Worcester Warriors on a long-term contract.

Adams played a key role in Wales' Six Nations Grand Slam triumph, scoring three tries as Warren Gatland's side finished the championship unbeaten.

The 23-year-old's form for Worcester saw him break into the Wales squad at the beginning of last year and he has since won 11 caps.

However, the Welsh Rugby Union's eligibility criteria demanded that Adams' next contract be in Wales, or that he sacrifice his international career to stay in England.

The Six Nations Player of the Tournament nominee said:  "It is great to be returning to Wales and I cannot wait to link up with Cardiff Blues next season.

"I've been really impressed with [coach] John Mulvihill's vision for the future and the attacking brand of rugby the Blues play will really suit my game.

"I will always be grateful to Worcester Warriors for giving me the opportunity to become a professional player and I have loved my time at Sixways.

"But to play for Wales I need to play in Wales and Cardiff Blues is the best fit for me. I'm really looking forward to the next chapter at Cardiff Arms Park."

Mulvihill added: "It's an exciting signing for the region and demonstrates our strong rugby ambition going forward.

"Josh is a player we can build success around. He brings genuine hunger to succeed, enormous energy and the skill-set and speed to make a real difference to our group.

"Just from watching the Six Nations, you can see he's a really busy player, who makes big contributions both in attack and defence, and is a good team man. We're looking forward to getting him on board for next season."

Adams' 13 tries for Worcester last season was the joint-best tally in the Premiership.

Jonathan Davies, Ken Owens and Rob Evans have followed up their Grand Slam heroics with Wales by signing contract extensions at the Scarlets.

The trio were key players for Warren Gatland's side as they finished the Six Nations unbeaten, capping the championship with an impressive 25-7 win against Ireland in Cardiff.

Davies, Owens and Evans, who all came through the region's academy, were also part of the Scarlets side that won the Pro12 in 2016-17.

Outgoing coach Wayne Pivac paid tribute to the contribution of the players during his tenure and added that successor Brad Mooar had been eager to retain them.

"They have been a big part of our success in recent years and I know that our incoming coach Brad was very keen to secure their services moving forward," he said.

Davies, who was named British and Irish Lions player of the series in 2017, added: "I could not be happier to be staying with the Scarlets.

"I am excited about the end of the season and, having spoken to our new coach Brad, excited about what is to come.

"It is something I want to be part of"

Skipper Owens has made 238 appearances for the region, while prop Evans was named in the Pro14 Dream Team last season.

"I am delighted to have signed an extension to my contract," said Owens.

"I am looking forward to a big end of season and building on the success we have achieved in recent years."

Meanwhile, Ospreys and Wales hooker Scott Baldwin has become the latest man to join Harlequins from next season, following Martin Landajo, Santiago Garcia Botta and Michele Campagnaro into the club.

Wayne Pivac is "disappointed" Shaun Edwards suggested he was surplus to requirements with Wales and says there is no chance he will stay on as defence coach.

Edwards last year agreed to take over as Wigan Warriors head coach when he finishes his commitments with Wales after the Rugby World Cup.

It now appears the Wigan legend may not take up the role with the Super League champions after he stated that he will be "unemployed" following the World Cup, given he has not signed a contract with his hometown club.

Edwards said after Wales sealed the Grand Slam on Saturday that he is open to offers, but a role on the Wales staff is out of the question as incoming head coach Pivac is "going in a different direction".

Pivac confirmed he has secured a successor to Edwards, but says the Englishman was on the shortlist and the pair held talks. 

He said: "We have finished the process and we have recruited a defence coach and that will come out in due course, hopefully not too much longer." 

Pivac added: "Shaun has done a fantastic job - we all know that. He's a very, very good defence coach. Shaun was the first person I spoke with. He indicated early on he was under pressure from

Wigan and that the timeline that was imposed on us were unrealistic.

"I talked around a process we would be going through. That was pre-autumn and pre-Six Nations. Shaun signed with Wigan and that put paid to the discussions going any further.

"Shaun knew he was on the shortlist, that he was the incumbent. We'd had a meeting and subsequent conversations.

"We are a little bit disappointed that's come out over the weekend but we are certainly not going to let it detract from a great result at the weekend.

"It's between Shaun and Wigan. I have no control over that. I only know about the discussions we had way back in August."

Warren Gatland believes Wales can mount a strong challenge to win the Rugby World Cup after their Grand Slam triumph.

Gatland masterminded a clean sweep in his final Six Nations as head coach, a comfortable victory over Ireland on Saturday sealing the title.

The New Zealander will end his long reign after the World Cup and he sees no reason why he cannot sign off in style in Japan.

"I know that these guys won't go down in any match without a fight. We've got a very special group of players at the moment," said Gatland.

"We enjoy each other's company, we challenge each other on a lot of things, but once we make a decision we back each other 100 per cent.

"I promise you that these guys will give 100 per cent in every game at the World Cup."

He added: "You need a little bit of luck and hopefully we don't pick up too many injuries.

"We'll have a few months of preparation and as we have in the last few World Cups, we'll be one of the fittest teams, if not the fittest team there.

"There's some real depth, some real competition in this squad and that makes it tough on us as coaches. There are quality players that will miss out on the 31-man squad and that will be incredibly tough.

"I assure you that we'll go there with some confidence and belief that we can have a great World Cup."

Wigan Warriors say they have been seeking contact with Shaun Edwards to "clarify his intentions" after the Wales defence coach stated he would "consider all offers" for a new role.

Edwards last year agreed to take over as head coach of the Super League champions in 2020, as he will vacate his position with the new Six Nations winners after the Rugby World Cup.

The Wigan legend said after Wales sealed the Grand Slam on Saturday that his future is up in the air, given he has not signed a contract with the Warriors.

Edwards' next move remains unclear following a statement released by Wigan on Monday.

"Wigan Warriors are aware of quotes from Shaun Edwards regarding his future contractual arrangements." the struggling Warriors stated.

"Following the conclusion of the Six Nations and Shaun's comments, we have been seeking dialogue with Shaun directly since Sunday to clarify to Wigan his intentions."

Edwards has been linked with a return to Wasps and he said he would be open to any opportunities.

"I haven't signed a contract," he explained. "The only team I'm not going to go to is Wales, because the new coach [Wayne Pivac] is going in a different direction.

"He wants to do something different. So that's where I'm at at the moment. So as it stands, come the end of the World Cup I'm unemployed."

He added: "I agreed with Wigan and thought we would sign a contract,

"But then Wigan said, 'it's okay, we'll sign one later', and I thought that was unusual. And that was nine months ago. I agreed to go to Wigan, but I never signed a contract.

"I'll consider all offers, league, union. All I can say is that I haven't signed anything with anybody."

Adrian Lam is currently in charge of Wigan, his appointment for the 2019 season having been announced alongside the hiring of Edwards from 2020.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones is one of four members of Wales' Grand Slam-winning team on a six-man shortlist for the Six Nations' Player of the Championship award.

Jones - Wales' inspirational skipper who earned his 134th Test cap in the victory over Ireland on Saturday - is joined by a trio of backline team-mates in Josh Adams, Liam Williams and Hadleigh Parkes.

The quartet all played key roles as Warren Gatland's men completed a clean sweep of wins for the third time under the New Zealander.

England's Jonny May and Tom Curry round off the shortlist.

May was the top try-scorer in the championship with six, while 20-year-old flanker Curry was arguably the breakout star of the tournament, excelling in the number seven shirt for Eddie Jones' side.

Jacob Stockdale of Ireland won last year's award, with Scotland's Stuart Hogg collecting the honour following each of the two previous campaigns.

Fans will again select this season's winner and have until Wednesday to vote.

 

Shaun Edwards' return to Wigan Warriors could be off after the Wales defence coach stated he will "consider all offers" for a new role after the Rugby World Cup. 

Edwards was unveiled by Wigan at a press conference last August and was due to take over as head coach of his hometown club next year.

The Wigan legend agreed to succeed Adrian Lam after fulfilling his commitments with new Six Nations champions Wales, but says he has not signed a contract to take charge of the Super League giants.

"On my future, my next step really is to sign a contract, I haven't signed a contract with anybody yet," said Edwards, who has been linked with Wasps.

"I haven't signed a contract. The only team I'm not going to go to is Wales, because the new coach [Wayne Pivac] is going in a different direction.

"He wants to do something different. So that's where I'm at at the moment. So as it stands, come the end of the World Cup I'm unemployed."

Edwards added: "I agreed with Wigan and thought we would sign a contract,

"But then Wigan said, 'it's okay, we'll sign one later', and I thought that was unusual. And that was nine months ago. I agreed to go to Wigan, but I never signed a contract.

"I'll consider all offers, league, union. All I can say is that I haven't signed anything with anybody."
 

Wales manager Ryan Giggs expects Aaron Ramsey to emulate Gareth Bale and reach a higher level by moving to Juventus at the end of the season.

Ramsey is set to end an 11-year stay at Arsenal and make the switch to the Serie A champions when his contract expires in June.

The 28-year-old has been an influential regular for club and country, yet Giggs hopes Ramsey can go on to discover his untapped potential by testing himself in Italy.

"You've seen what going abroad has done for Gareth. It will be a great experience for Aaron," Giggs said, referring to Bale's big-money move from Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013.

"Look at the facilities Juventus have got, they are a massive club.

"He is going to a great club, the biggest in Italy.

"He is playing well at the moment and [the prospect of leaving Arsenal] has not affected him."

Giggs' Wales have a friendly meeting with Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday ahead of a Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia next weekend.

Warren Gatland is hopeful Wales can continue the fine work he has set in motion after he departs later this year, although he admits he will miss the Six Nations.

Gatland became the first coach to win three Grand Slams when Wales crushed Ireland 25-7 at a raucous Principality Stadium on Saturday.

The former Ireland boss will leave his post after this year's Rugby World Cup - with Wayne Pivac to take over - having been in charge of Wales since 2007.

Gatland is confident he has restored the team's pride and respect - and will be watching on when they return to defend their Six Nations championship in 2020.

"Sitting somewhere next year watching the Six Nations, it'll be something I miss," he told a news conference.

"But having been involved here so long, I just hope they can continue what we've done in the last 10 or 12 years in terms of putting some respectability back in that jersey - being successful and being a team that is hard to beat.

"I know that when the players put that red jersey on, it's not always about winning but the Welsh public want to see this group try hard. If they do that, it's all you can ask for.

"Those are the sort of things that I'm going to miss with this group."

Asked if he had been seen shedding a tear at full-time, Gatland replied: "It was the rain, I think.

"There's no doubt that I was reasonably emotional afterwards. It's great. I get such a buzz out of watching those guys go up and collect trophies and celebrate. That's what it's all about."

The 2019 Six Nations reached a thrilling conclusion on Saturday as Wales won the Grand Slam and Scotland held England in an incredible draw.

Wales were rewarded for keeping their nerve after rivals Ireland and England slipped up earlier in the tournament, while France endured a tough campaign and Italy could not get a win.

With the competition over for another year, we look back at the key numbers with the help of Opta.

 

1 - Ireland lost at home in the Six Nations for the first time under Joe Schmidt. They had won 12 and drawn one of their 13 such matches before defeat to England.

4 - Italy took the Wooden Spoon for the fourth year in a row after losing all five of their matches.

12 - Wales won their 12th Grand Slam in tournament history and their fourth in the Six Nations, more than any other side; three of those have come during Warren Gatland's tenure.

14 - Wales have won their last 14 Test matches, England are the only European tier one side to have ever won more consecutive matches in all competitions (W18 – 2015-17).

22 - Italy have lost their last 22 Six Nations games. The Azzurri's defeat to Scotland saw them surpass France's record of 17 consecutive tournament defeats between 1911 and 1920.

24 - England led by 24 points at half-time on Saturday against Scotland but failed to win, the joint highest half-time lead any tier one team has failed to go on and win from in Test history; South Africa (v New Zealand) and Argentina (v Australia) each lost despite leading by 24 points after 40 minutes on the same day in October 2018.

36 - England beat France by 36 points. Only once before in Test rugby have they won by a greater margin against France – a 37-0 victory in 1911.

50 - Warren Gatland took charge of Wales for the 50th time in the Six Nations against Ireland on Saturday. He won 36 of his 50 games (72 per cent win rate).

76 - There were 76 points scored in the Calcutta Cup match between England and Scotland (38-38), making it the highest scoring draw in Test history.

134 - Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones won his 134th Test cap in against Ireland, drawing level with Gethin Jenkins as the fifth most capped player in history, behind only Richie McCaw, Brian O’Driscoll, George Gregan and Sergio Parisse.

Ireland were not "catastrophic" in the Six Nations, says Joe Schmidt, as he urged supporters to stick with his slumping side.

Schmidt's men won the Grand Slam in 2018 but could not defend their title this year, losing to Wales in Cardiff on Saturday as the hosts completed their own perfect campaign.

Ireland were still in the running for the championship ahead of the match at the Principality Stadium, but they were way off the pace and went down 25-7, only scoring with the final attack from Jordan Larmour.

But after dominating last term and beating the All Blacks in New Zealand, Schmidt hopes Ireland have earned enough credit that they will not be written off after a tournament in which he concedes they were below par.

"[The media] will set the narrative," he told a news conference. "We can only perform in those two 40-minute windows that we get and then the narrative will be whatever pundits or journalists put out there.

"We would certainly encourage the genuine supporter not to lose faith with the team, that the team will definitely turn up in Japan [for the Rugby World Cup] and we'll grow a bit from this.

"You only have to look back a year to see England went back-to-back in the championship and then ended up fifth. We fought our way up to third, we're in the top half of the championship.

"We haven't been catastrophic but we haven't been as good as we need to be and today was probably an example of that."

He added: "We've won 23 of our last 26 Test matches, we've finished third in the Six Nations - once upon a time that wasn't the catastrophe that it is today for Ireland.

"We'll be the first to put our hands up and say that that's not as good as we want to be. We'll be first to take our hats off to acknowledge the performance Wales put in today and then we'll reflect, rebuild and go forward.

"I'd like to think the genuine supporter will still be 100 per cent behind us."

Warren Gatland aimed a dig at England boss Eddie Jones after Wales sealed the Six Nations Grand Slam with a brilliant 25-7 victory over Ireland in Cardiff.

Wales made light work of the 2018 champions at the Principality Stadium, with Hadleigh Parkes crossing inside two minutes and Gareth Anscombe adding 20 points from the tee.

They were unable to hold on for a shutout, though, as Jordan Larmour touched down beyond the 80th minute for Joe Schmidt's side.

England needed Wales to slip up against Ireland to keep their hopes of snatching the title alive and Jones suggested in the build-up to Saturday's fixtures that Gatland's side looked tired.

Speaking after becoming the first coach to win the Grand Slam three times, Gatland told the BBC: "It was a fantastic performance and we didn't look too tired, did we?

"I'm proud of the players. It's not about me, it's about those players. We spoke beforehand about the players playing for themselves, their families, the fans and Wales as a whole and being able to create a bit of history. You can never take that away from them now."

Having swept aside all comers in the Six Nations, Wales will likely be considered among the favourites to win the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones said they had "put a target on our back" with Grand Slam glory and Gatland believes they are capable of overcoming any opponent.

"We'd been trying to slip under the radar. We know on our day that we're capable of beating good teams, so I think we'll have a break now and start preparing for the World Cup," said Gatland.

"These boys train exceptionally hard, will run through a brick wall for you. They're a really tight group and really close to each other.

"If we go there with a bit of luck and don't pick up too many injuries we've got a good chance of beating anybody."

Alun Wyn Jones believes Wales have put a target on their backs ahead of the Rugby World Cup by winning the Six Nations Grand Slam.

Wales defeated reigning champions Ireland 25-7 in Cardiff on Saturday to seal an unbeaten campaign and the title, flying out of the blocks at the Principality Stadium to take control of their destiny.

Warren Gatland's men were not always convincing in the competition - notably trailing France at half-time in their opener - but they have now won 14 consecutive games.

While Jones acknowledged Wales' occasional shortcomings, he now knows that they will be a scalp for any team at the World Cup in Japan.

"There's more than self belief, there's character at times," he told BBC Sport. "We're not going to shy away: we've been pretty unconvincing at times as well.

"We like to think there's more potential within us. But we're more than well aware that we've just put a big target on our backs."

Warren Gatland is set to depart Wales, with Jones saying his side will miss the coach who guided them to this triumph.

"[Gatland's approach] filters down. He's the man at the top," Jones added.

"We've been under pressure, he's been under pressure. But he's always been unwavering and pretty unflappable really - although it's easy to say that off the back of a win.

"He's got a bit left on his contract, but I'm sure we'll miss him when he's eventually gone."

Gatland had spoken ahead of Saturday's match of Wales thriving under the pressure and Gareth Anscombe says they did just that.

"We wanted to enjoy it," he said. "We have the best stadium in the world in front of our people. We wanted to take the game to them.

"We started well. Once you get behind in these tricky conditions, it's tough to pull back."

Rory Best conceded Ireland had no answer to a dominant Wales display as Warren Gatland's side sealed Grand Slam glory in the Six Nations with a 25-7 win in Cardiff.

Wales took a second-minute lead through Hadleigh Parkes' try and Gareth Anscombe added 20 points from the tee, with the 2018 champions unable to get on the board until Jordan Larmour touched down beyond the 80th minute.

Gatland consequently became the first coach to win the Grand Slam on three separate occasions.

In his final Six Nations match, Ireland captain Best felt his team were unable to respond to the early blow Wales dealt them.

"Wales had a cracking start and they delivered a game. They're a very good side, a very determined side. They're very hard to beat at the Principality Stadium," Best told the BBC.

"We just couldn't get a foot in the game. Our set-piece wasn't up to the standards we expect and they came after us. They really put a lot of pressure on us and we struggled to respond."

Ireland overcame number-one ranked New Zealand in October but defeat to Wales was their second loss of the competition, having gone down 32-20 to England in their Six Nations opener.

Best, competing in his final match in the competition, was not too concerned about the recent setbacks, despite them coming in a World Cup year.

"It's a very competitive Six Nations. We've lost to two very good sides. We'll have to go away and address why we lost and how we can get better," he said.

"We always strive to get better. We haven't done that. We've been a little inconsistent in these championships. We'll have to dust ourselves off and try to finish the calendar year strong.

"It's very disappointing. We can talk about the aftermath later on – you just have to give credit to Wales, deserved Grand Slam winners. We just have to congratulate them."

Ruthless Wales sealed a record third Grand Slam under departing head coach Warren Gatland with an emphatic 25-7 victory over lacklustre Ireland at a raucous Principality Stadium.

Clinical Wales rose to the occasion with the roof open and rain lashing down in Cardiff on Saturday to end a six-year wait for a Six Nations title and claim a first clean sweep since 2012.

Hadleigh Parkes set the tone with an early try that was set up by the excellent Gareth Anscombe, who was on target with three penalties to give Wales a 16-0 half-time advantage.

Indisciplined Ireland were a shadow of the team that pulled off a Grand Slam last year and Wales took full advantage, Anscombe adding another three penalties in the second half in a perfect kicking display to take his tally to 20 points.

Nothing went right for disjointed Ireland as they relinquished their title with a whimper, Gatland - who will end his long reign after the World Cup - becoming the first coach to mastermind three Grand Slams in the tournament.

Ireland - who scored a late consolation through Jordan Larmour - finish third behind England in their final Six Nations with Joe Schmidt in charge, while magnificent Wales' winning run now stands at 14 matches after they got the job done in emphatic fashion.

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