Mark Jones, one of the best Welsh rugby internationals in recent years, has been appointed as the new coach at Championship club Rotherham Titans.
The 35 year old, who played on the wing for Wales in 47 Tests between 2001 and 2009, takes over from Lee Blackett following his move to Premiership club Wasps as backs’ coach.
Jones, part of the Welsh side which won the Grand Slam in 2008, starts with immediate effect and will meet Rotherham’s players on Monday at Clifton Lane when they report back for pre-season training.
The Welshman appeared in more than 160 games for Llanelli Scarlets scoring 85 tries in 12 seasons during a distinguished career which saw Jones picked for the Rugby World Cups in 2003 and 2007.
His career, though, came to a premature end in 2010 when he was only 30 because of injury; since then Jones has been coaching at his old club and as recently as 2013 was the Wales attack coach for a short period.
“We are delighted to have brought such a big name to the club. Mark’s outstanding rugby CV will give our players a huge lift.
“The appointment has taken some time to make, but we’ve got the right man in the end.
His predecessor, Lee Blackett, has put in place good and solid foundations and we are sure that Mark has the ability to build on them,” explained Titans’ director Martin Jenkinson who played a major role in the negotiations which eventually persuaded Jones to accept the challenge at Clifton Lane.
The first job Rotherham’s new coach faces will be to familiarise himself with the squad of 20 which Blackett has retained and the 12 new players who have been recruited since the end of last season.
It’s too early to say whether Jones will want to or need to sign any more players, but with Rotherham’s rivals in the Championship becoming stronger every season, he will quickly be made aware of how tough a job he has taken on, but he moves to a club which has finished fourth under Blackett in the last two seasons, so his squad should be seriously competitive once again and will aim to reach the promotion play-offs three years running.
The Titans’ first game of the new season is at newly promoted Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday September 4th.