MIKE Ruddock will coach Wales right through to the next World Cup in 2007, the Argus can reveal today.

Ruddock is shortly to be offered an extension to his contract for another two years on top of the two-year deal he signed just over 12 months ago.

Welsh Rugby Union chiefs are so delighted with the progress of the Welsh team under Ruddock and with the style they are showing that a new agreement with the Blaina-born coach is a formality.

WRU chairman David Pickering says that they will not discuss business during the Six Nations Championship and Ruddock admits that is not the way to go about things either, though he is completely relaxed about the situation.

"We can't look at this while the tournament is played though we are obviously delighted with the way things are going and with the style and flair the team is playing with," Pickering said.

"It's not just us who are delighted, but the broadcasters, media and other stakeholders, especially the Welsh public.

"They are playing the Welsh way and the Wales coach is encouraging that. And isn't he doing a fantastic job?"

Ruddock's position as coach is due to be reviewed officially at the end of the Six Nations, but Pickering's body language is such that an extension to Ruddock's deal can be taken as a formality.

It will be a huge vote of confidence for the man who has guided Wales to four successive Six Nations victories and has taken them to the brink of their first Grand Slam for 27 years.

Wales have beaten England, Italy, France and Scotland in rapid succession, and they have scored 15 tries into the bargain as they have blitzed some of the opposition.

Pickering's reaction comes against a background of increasing success off the pitch for the Welsh Rugby Union, who yesterday also announced five-figure sponsorship deals with Welsh-based companies the Welsh Whisky Company and Prince's Gate Spring Water.

That comes on top of increased royalties from sales of the Wales jersey, selling £1.5m of debentures in three weeks and the sale of more corporate hospitality for the England game last month than for the entire Six Nations last season.

"I think the platform is in place for a sustained period of success," said Pickering. "There have been major changes in the professional game and its finances while the under-21s are also going for the Grand Slam.

"There has also been change in the way the WRU board is run and in the administration. And we are not finished yet, the next challenge is to build up the numbers playing as it's vital we build on Wales' success."