Shaun Edwards

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For the Australian footballer, see Shaun Edwards (Australian footballer).
Shaun Edwards
Shaun Edwards.jpg
Personal information
Full name Shaun Edwards OBE
Date of birth (1966-10-17) 17 October 1966 (age 47)
Place of birth Wigan, Lancashire, England
Senior clubs*
Years Club Apps (points)
Balmain Tigers
London Broncos
Bradford Bulls
London Broncos
467 (1140)
12 (4)

22 (26)
Representative teams
Great Britain
36 (60)
3 (4)
1 (8)
Professional clubs coached
2001-11 Wasps
Representative teams coached
2008- Wales Assistant Coach
* Professional club appearances and points
counted for domestic first grade only.

Shaun Edwards OBE (born 17 October 1966 in Wigan, England) is a former rugby league player and current rugby union coach. He is the defence coach of Wales, a post he has held since 2008. In November 2011 he left London Wasps after 10 years with the club, latterly as head coach.

Edwards generally played in the half-backs in rugby league. He played for Wigan in the Rugby Football League Championship and then Super League between 1983 and 1997. He also had spells with Balmain Tigers, London Broncos (twice) and Bradford Bulls. He remains the most decorated player in Rugby League history - playing for Wigan, Edwards won a record eight championships and a record nine Challenge Cups. In total he played in eleven Challenge Cup finals, also a record.[2] He was voted Man of Steel in 1990 and is an inductee of the Wigan Hall of Fame.

Edwards played 36 times for Great Britain, and played for England in 1995 and '96 and Ireland in 1998. In all, he appeared in three Rugby League World Cups.[3]


Edwards was born in Wigan, Lancashire on 17 October 1966. His father, Jack, played halfback for Warrington in the late 1950s and early 1960s, until a severe spinal injury ended his career prematurely at age 24.[4]

Edwards was England schoolboy captain at both rugby league and rugby union, and had been pursued by several clubs.

His younger brother, Billy-Joe, also played rugby league for Wigan until his death, in a car crash, in 2003.[5]

Playing career[edit]

Edwards signed for Wigan in a blaze of media coverage on his seventeenth birthday; for a fee of £35,000,[6] the largest in history for a schoolboy player. He made his début for the club at half-back in their 30–13 home win against York on 6 November 1983, 20 days after signing for Wigan.

Edwards played for Great Britain 36 times, starting 32 games with a further four from the substitute's bench, and scored 16 tries. His political views meant that on a Great Britain Lions tour, Edwards taped over the British Coal logo on his shirt in support of the miners' strike.

Edwards went on to become the captain of the most successful club team in rugby league history as his Wigan side went 43 Challenge Cup ties unbeaten, with Edwards playing in every round over 8 successful seasons.

Shaun Edwards played fullback, and scored a try in Wigan's 14-8 victory over New Zealand in their 1985 rugby league tour of Europe, which took place at Central Park, Wigan on Sunday 6 October 1985.[7]

Edwards played in Wigan's 1987 World Club Challenge victory over Sydney's Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. He was selected to go on the 1988 Great Britain Lions tour.

In 1990, Edwards received the Man of Steel Award after he played most of the Challenge Cup final against Warrington with a broken cheekbone and eye socket, after receiving a high, off the ball tackle in the 10th minute. He played in Wigan's 1991 World Club Challenge victory over Sydney's Penrith Panthers.

Edwards finished the 1991–92 season as the League's leading try scorer with a total of 40. Edwards was then selected to go on the 1992 Great Britain Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand. He matched Wigan's record for most tries in a single match (10) in the 78–0 rout of Swinton in the Lancashire Cup 2nd round in September 1992.[8] It was a County Cup record and record for a non-winger in any game. In addition he scored four tries in a game on four occasions and hat-tricks seven times. During the 1992–93 Rugby Football League season Edwards played at scrum half for defending RFL champions Wigan in the 1992 World Club Challenge against the visiting Brisbane Broncos. He played in Wigan's 1994 World Club Challenge over the Brisbane Broncos in Australia.

Edwards was England's captain for the 1995 World Cup tournament, but before ruled himself out of the final against Australia with an infected knee.[9]

After a fall-out with new coach Eric Hughes (a former St. Helens coach), Edwards left Wigan to join the London Broncos. He had played in every round of Wigan's eight consecutive Challenge Cup wins. Altogether Edwards made 452 appearances for Wigan. He played his last game for the club against St Helens in the Challenge Cup defeat at Knowsley Road in 1997. Edwards had wanted to spend time with his new baby son he had with girlfriend Heather Small, which would mean him missing one training session a week to be in London, but was refused permission by Hughes. Hughes' decision caused anger among Wigan fans, and was sacked at the end of the season. When he returned to Wigan with the Broncos in May 1997, he got on the score sheet and was warmly applauded by the Wigan crowd to which he gave his customary nod of approval. After just a season in London, Edwards moved to Bradford Bulls but was soon on his way back to London where he represented the Broncos in the 1999 Challenge Cup final at Wembley.[10] He retired in 2000.

Edwards still stays strong to his Wigan roots. In a 2007 interview Edwards claimed that 'I almost had an heart attack' after Wigan came back to defeat Bradford Bulls in an epic 30-31 play off victory. He also claimed that one day he would come back to coach Wigan.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

In 2001, Edwards joined London Wasps rugby union team as a defence and backs coach, taking over as head coach in 2005 after Warren Gatland returned to New Zealand. Wasps won the English Rugby Union Championship three times in succession, in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and the Heineken Cup in 2004 and 2007.

Edwards teamed up with Warren Gatland again, after the latter was appointed head coach of Wales: Edwards had been offered the job of coaching England's second-tier side, England Saxons,[11] but preferred the position with Wales. Former England player Matt Dawson stated that it was "a crime" that England lost him to Wales and described him as "the best coach in the world".[12] Edwards left his position at London Wasps in November 2011.[13]

In May 2012, London Irish declared that Shaun Edwards will join the club as defence coach.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Edwards had a long-term relationship with M People singer Heather Small, with whom he has a son, James. Although no longer together, a key factor in his moving to the south was that he could be close to his son. When offered the job of coaching the Great Britain national rugby league team he turned it down because it would mean being in the north a lot of the time, away from his family.

A devout Roman Catholic, Edwards prayed before each game. He has said: "One of the greatest sayings that I have heard was that you have to be prepared to suffer. I think it's the same with any walk of life. Nothing comes easily. No pain, no gain, and that is certainly the case in rugby. If you're not prepared to put in the hard work, to go through the pain and suffering, both mental and physical, you probably won't make it. Jesus suffered on the cross in his life and that's a reality that inspired and helped me in the good times and the bad."[4]

Edwards currently writes a regular rugby column each Friday for the Guardian newspaper.



London Broncos
Runner-up: 1999


Orders and awards[edit]


  1. ^ Kelly, David (2008-03-07). "Pilgrim returns to the old country". Irish Independent. 
  2. ^ Stanford, Peter (2006). Why I am still a Catholic: essays in faith and perseverance. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 29. ISBN 9780826491459. 
  3. ^ Dollin, S., Ferguson, A., Bates, B. "Shaun Edwards - Career Stats & Summary". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  4. ^ a b Lewis, Tim (2008-06-13). "Wales coach tells how religion gives him strength". Western Mail. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  5. ^ "Rugby league players killed in crash". BBC. 2003-02-14. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  6. ^ Houghton Mifflin Company (2003). The Houghton Mifflin dictionary of biography. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 482. ISBN 9780618252107. 
  7. ^ "1985 Tour Match: Wigan 14 New Zealand 8". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "RECORDS" at
  9. ^ "A fear of failure spurs Australia". The Age. 27 October 1995. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  10. ^ (27 February 2004). "Cup heroes: Shaun Edwards". BBC Sport (UK: BBC). Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  11. ^ Mott, Sue (2008-02-16). "Fear of failure spurs Shaun Edwards". London: Telegraph. 
  12. ^ "Edwards is world's best - Dawson". BBC Sport. 2008-01-31. 
  13. ^ Averis, Mike (2011-11-01). "England and Wales on alert as Shaun Edwards leaves London Wasps". The Guardian (London). 
  14. ^ "Shaun Edwards". Retrieved 2012-06-09. 

External links[edit]