England and Wales could get involved in a vigorous tug-o'-war for the services of Shaun Edwards, after the veteran coach formally parted ways with Wasps on Wednesday.
In a statement Wasps confirmed that an agreement was reached with their head coach, Edwards, who will leave the club after 10 years of outstanding service - to pursue other opportunities in the game.
"Edwards, who has been with Wasps since joining as a backs coach in 2001, is departing to progress his career elsewhere having left an indelible mark on the club throughout a hugely successful tenure," the statement said..
"The decision comes after planned discussions between the club and Edwards since his return from the World Cup."
Speculation over a potential role for Edwards in the England set-up has grown in recent weeks.
Edwards' exit from Adams Park is likely to put the focus sharply on the Welsh Rugby Union and the Rugby Football Union to act quickly to secure the services of one of the most successful coaches of the professional era.
He worked on a part-time basis for Wales from the beginning of 2008, with Wasps allowing him to be available to link up with Warren Gatland's side for Test matches, but his contract with the WRU expired following Wales' defeat to Australia in their third-place play-off at the World Cup.
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis is known to be keen to ensure that Edwards and the remainder of Gatland's coaching set-up remain with the national side.
Edwards departs Wasps having been part of a glorious era at the London outfit, helping the club to win four Premiership titles, two Heineken Cups, one Anglo-Welsh Cup and a Parker Pen trophy in over a decade of coaching.
He became Head Coach in 2002, and in 2008 with the full support of Wasps, joined Wales as Assistant Coach while continuing in his role at the club. The club also offered Edwards their full support when he took a role with the British and Irish Lions in 2009.
He helped take Wales to a Six Nations title in 2008 and reach the World Cup semifinal earlier this year. He is widely renowned as one of the world’s top defence coaches, having been largely credited with creating the famous 'blitz' defence that played a significant part in an era of title winning at Wasps.
London Wasps Director Lawrence Dallaglio said: "Shaun is rightly held in great esteem and high affection by everyone associated with the club and he is leaving a massive legacy here.
"He has developed into one of the most highly respected coaches in world rugby and both the club and Shaun himself feel that now is the right time for him to go on and continue to develop himself as a coach in another environment and perhaps at a higher level.
"We have no doubt that Shaun’s reputation, greatly enhanced by his work with Wales at the recent World Cup, will present him with many opportunities at the top level of the sport and he departs from Wasps with the best wishes from everyone at the club."
London Wasps CEO Chris Thomas said: "I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the club to thank Shaun for everything he has done for Wasps over the past ten years and wish him the best of luck in the next stage of his career.
"This is not a financial decision as has been suggested elsewhere, but a decision solely based on what is best for both parties with Shaun keen to test himself in a new environment. The club has invested this year in both a new coaching structure as well as the introduction of new players and we are pleased with the progress being made with Dai Young at the helm."
Edwards said: "I would like to thank the supporters, sponsors, fellow coaches and owners of London Wasps but most of all the many great players who I have had the privilege to coach in my ten years at the club.
"I will always have fond memories of my time with Wasps and feel ready and excited for some new challenges ahead of me. The experiences of the recent British and Irish Lions tour and the recent World Cup have given me more knowledge than I have ever had."
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