Could a Welshman be the secret behind England winning a second Rugby World Cup this year?
There’s a not-so-secret weapon within England’s ranks as they prepare for the 2023 Rugby World Cup… And he’s Welsh!
Aled Walters has teamed up with Steve Borthwick’s England set-up this summer, here’s all you need to know about the head of strength and conditioning…
Ten things you should know about Aled Walters
1. Born in Camarthen, Walters grew up as a ‘staunch Scarlets fan’ and was in the crowd when his future club Leicester Tigers defeated Llanelli in the 2002 European Cup semi-final, a match best remembered for Tim Stimpson’s long-range penalty kick.
2. Despite winning a World Cup and holding one of the top jobs in English rugby, Walters does not have a Wikipedia page.
3. Walters completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Sports Science at Loughborough University in 2002 before completing his Master of Science, Strength and Conditioning at Edinburgh.
4. Spent four seasons with the Scarlets before going on his travels and taking the role of head of strength and conditioning at Taranaki in New Zealand before moving to Australia and a position as athletic performance coach at the Brumbies in Super Rugby.
4. In 2012 he moved to Munster and spent six years with the Irish provinces as its head of athletic performance/strength and conditioning.
5. The Springboks came calling in 2018 and a year later, Walters had a World Cup winners medal around his neck after helping South Africa to lift a third Webb Ellis Cup – defeating England in the final. Springboks centre Jesse Kriel told RugbyPass that Walters was “one of or if not the best in the business”.
6. Joined Leicester Tigers in May 2020 and his arrival at Mattioli Woods Welford Road was called a ‘game changer’ by then-director of rugby, Geordan Murphy.
7. When Handre Pollard joined Tigers in the summer of 2022, he described Walters as being ‘world class’ and a key reason why he chose Tigers over other more lucrative offers.
8. Tigers rose from successive bottom-of-the-table finishes (factoring out Saracens’ points deduction in 2019-20) to finish sixth in 2020-21 and reach the European Challenge Cup final. In season two, Walters helped guide Leicester to the 2021-22 Premiership title.
9. Steve Borthwick and Kevin Sinfield left Tigers midway through the 2022-23 season to help form England’s new coaching team. Walters followed them to Twickenham at the end of the campaign, along with fellow Tigers backroom staff Richard Wigglesworth and Tom Harrison.
10. Walters received high praise from Borthwick when his England switch was confirmed, he said: “Aled is an excellent performance coach who had an incredible impact with the Rugby World Cup holders, South Africa. Wherever he has worked, players improve. I have never met anyone who is able to get more out of players than he does.”
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