THE Welsh Rugby Union have finally confirmed that Rowland Phillips has left his role as head coach of the national women’s team.

The former dual-code international had been absent this season without explanation from the governing body.

The Union said in October that Phillips, who had a short spell coaching Ebbw Vale in 2009/10, was “taking some time away”.

Coaches Chris Horsman, Geraint Lewis and Gareth Wyatt held the reins for the encouraging five-match autumn series and the disappointing Six Nations campaign.

“The Welsh Rugby Union confirms that Rowland Phillips has left his role as national women’s head coach and performance programme lead, having been in post since July 2016,” read a short statement.

“Rowland Phillips left his role as he wanted to seek other opportunities. The Welsh Rugby Union would like to thank Rowland for his contribution and commitment during his time with us and wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Wales suffered defeats to Italy, Ireland, France and England in the Six Nations and sit ninth in the world rankings.

They are building towards next year’s World Cup in New Zealand where they will look to improve on their 2017 finish of eighth.

Meanwhile, Gareth Williams has given his backing to the early decision to cancel this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship.

The tournament was meant to take place in northern Italy with Wales drawn in a tough pool featuring New Zealand, Australia and Georgia.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has led to the competition being called off.

“Naturally, we are disappointed with the cancellation, but it’s wholly understandable with the challenges the world faces,” said Wales head coach Williams, whose side were aiming to repeat last year’s stunning win against the Baby Blacks.

“We’d like to commend World Rugby in making an early decision that allows us to consider contingencies in working together with the regions in regards to the player’s development.

“The Wales U20s squad would like to wish everyone their very best in these unique circumstances we face.”

A number of Dragons were hoping to feature in the competition, with several of them in their final year of age-grade rugby.

The cancellation will lead to a change of conditioning programme for the young guns as they were meant to be playing in late June and early July.

They can now take a full part in pre-season preparations, whenever they resume.