Wales defence coach Byron Hayward has left his role in Wayne Pivac’s backroom staff with immediate effect.
The former Wales Under-20 and Scarlets coach joined Pivac’s coaching team in 2019 but has left his role by mutual agreement before the upcoming Autumn Nations Cup campaign.
The existing coaching team will manage the defence for the new tournament.
“I would like to thank Byron for his hard work with Wales and his honesty in recent meetings,” said Pivac.
Wales begin their Autumn Nations Cup against Ireland in Dublin on 13 November before games against Georgia, England and a final play-off match.
Hayward took over from Shaun Edwards, who left Wales for France after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Edwards had been part of Warren Gatland’s backroom staff between 2008 and 2019, during which time Wales won three Grand Slams and four Six Nations titles and reached two World Cup semi-finals.
Hayward’s tenure began with a 42-0 Six Nations win over Italy in February 2020 but Wales have since lost five games and conceded 16 tries.
Wales’ fifth-place finish in this year’s Six Nations was their worst performance in the tournament since 2007, while the tally of 98 points conceded was the highest since the 2010 campaign.
Hayward and Pivac had worked together for five seasons at Scarlets before linking up with Wales.
“I have worked alongside Byron for six and a half years, he is a dedicated coach that has had great success in his career,” said Pivac.
“On reflection of the last campaign, it was mutually decided that the best way forward for Wales and for Byron is for him to step down from his role.
“I, on behalf of the squad and management, would like to wish Byron all the best for the future.
“In the short term, for the upcoming four matches, the existing coaching team will manage the defence based on the foundations already put in place. We will then look to replace Byron on a full-time basis with an announcement in due course.”
Hayward was working in the Wales defence department alongside Sam Warburton before the first coronavirus lockdown.
Warburton was replaced by Gethin Jenkins as Wales’ breakdown and technical advisor in October.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Wales and it was an honour to coach my country,” said Hayward.
“As I have always said from day one, the team comes first and upon reflection of the last campaign with Wayne, we felt it was best for me to step aside.
“When I took the role last year I wouldn’t have planned to be leaving as the squad prepare to start the new international season, [but] I believe it is the right decision for myself and the squad as they enter a new campaign.
“I would like to wish Wayne and the squad all the best going forward and I will be fully supporting them.”
Hayward joins a list of high-profile figures to leave the Welsh Rugby Union in the last month following the departures of Warburton, chief executive Martyn Phillips, chairman Gareth Davies and performance director Ryan Jones.