HEAD coach Jason Strange has left Ebbw Vale to take up a full-time role with the Welsh Rugby Union, writes Chris Kirwan.

The former fly-half has been with the Steelmen for five seasons, helping them win four titles in Division One East and the Swalec Championship before being named as coach of the year when spearheading their excellent return to the Principality Premiership.

Ebbw were beaten in the final by Pontypridd but their bid to go one better next season will be under the stewardship of a new boss.

Strange had been combining his Ebbw role with a part-time skills coach job with the WRU since January and he was part of the management team at this month’s World Rugby U20 Championship.

The offer of a full-time role with the governing body was too good to turn down despite his affection for the Steelmen and job at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.

“My time as head coach is something that I will always look back on in years to come with fondness and great memories,” said Strange.

“It's a special club that means a lot to me – a club I watched as a child, the club that gave me an opportunity in the game first as a player and then a coach.

“It's been an enormous privilege to coach Ebbw Vale and I am exceptionally proud of how the team has added to the club's history during this time.

“I am also exceptionally proud of how they have developed an extremely professional and enjoyable culture and environment.”

Ebbw Vale plan to release details of the new set-up in the coming days and Strange believes that the club are well-placed to build on recent success.

“I am sure the next coach who comes in at the club will feel the warmth of the people like I have done and I am sure will go on and be successful as well,” he said.

“They will have an incredible group of players to work with that represent everything you want your team to stand for and a group of supporters who are up there with the best in terms of loyalty.

“They will have a real genuine, honest group of hard-working coaches and people behind the scenes who will give them every opportunity to succeed.”

WRU national academy coaching manager Allan Lewis will retire at the end of the month with Strange working full-time alongside Chris Horsman and Geraint Lewis.