Get to know the man man who selected Wales' first full-time women's players

Ioan Cunningham: Ten things you should know about Wales Women head coach

Former back-rower Ioan Cunningham was appointed head coach of the Wales women’s team in 2021. Here we chart his rugby journey.

Ten things you should know about Ioan Cunningham

1. Ioan Cunningham was born on 1 January 1983. A No 8 in his playing days, he stands at 6ft 1in (1.86m).

2. He enjoyed an impressive age-grade career as a player, captaining Wales U18 and U19. He also featured for the U16 and U21 sides.

3. Cunningham was educated at Cardiff Metropolitan University, where the likes of Sir Gareth Edwards, Alex Dombrandt and Ken Owens also studied.

4. He joined another institution famed for producing rugby talent, Llandovery College, in 2020, where he was director of elite rugby.

The college has produced Wales internationals such as Alun Wyn Jones, George North and Gwyn Jones.

5. Cunningham joined the WRU in January 2010 and served a variety of roles during the subsequent five-year tenure, including national academy skills coach and U20 forwards coach.

6. He became the Scarlets forwards coach in June 2015 and helped the region to win the Pro12 title in 2017.

7. Cunningham worked under Wayne Pivac at the Scarlets and impressed the New Zealander.

Speaking in 2018, the future Wales men’s head coach told WalesOnline: “It is his (Cunningham’s) third year of coaching at this level and it is a pretty tough environment where he has a lot of internationals to deal with. He is handling himself very well. He has definitely got a very big future in the game.”

8. His nine-year stint at the Scarlets ended unexpectedly in 2020. After new head coach Glenn Delaney deemed him surplus to requirements, Cunningham told the BBC’s Byd Rygbi Cat a Charlo podcast: “I was a little bit shocked, but it’s rugby, it’s pro sport, we have to adjust and deal with things very quickly.”

9. Having previously been involved with the national U20 side, he was appointed Wales Women head coach in October 2021 and he won each of his first two games, against Japan and South Africa, the following month.

He was given the role through to the end of the Rugby World Cup taking place in late 2022.

10. Cunningham was part of a landmark moment for his country in January 2022, as he selected the first 12 Wales women’s players to be given full-time contracts by the WRU.

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