FORMER Wales skipper Ryan Jones has stepped down from his role as Welsh Rugby Union performance director.

Jones joined the WRU’s executive board in 2015 after a glittering playing career that also saw the forward captain the British and Irish Lions, but he has now decided to remove himself from the role and there are no plans to replace him at this stage.

This could be down to the current restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic, which has plunged the domestic game into turmoil with seemingly no end in sight.

The former Ospreys star stated that this was the “perfect time” to step away as Covid-19 has forced many of the governing body’s performances programmes to come to a halt over health concerns.

Jones, said: "It has been a privilege to work for the WRU. It has really been a 20-year journey when you include my time as a player.

"With a number of performance programmes paused due to the impact of Covid-19 on rugby, now feels the right time to put my efforts into new opportunities.

"I am immensely proud of my contribution to Welsh rugby and what our dedicated teams have delivered during my time.

"Having worked across the whole of Welsh rugby for the last five years I know what we have is special and I would like to wish everyone involved in our game inside and outside of Wales, whether it be in the boardroom on the touchline or on the pitch, every success in the future."

WRU chief executive Steve Phillips lavished praise on Jones following his decision and wished him well with his future endeavours.

"Ryan the 'suit' has been very much like Ryan the player,” added Phillips.

"His energy, effort and enthusiasm are always evident and without doubt he has helped change the culture at the WRU. His focus on making our sport accessible for everyone has permeated the organisation.

"He will be missed and we wish him well. I have no doubt he will be as successful in whatever he does next as he was on and off the field in Welsh rugby."