Saturday 16 December 2017

Graham Rowntree released as England forwards coach by Eddie Jones

Graham Rowntree
Graham Rowntree

Steve James

Graham Rowntree has been released as England forwards coach.

It is understood that new head coach Eddie Jones informed Rowntree on Friday that his services are no longer required, and he will be replaced by former England lock Steve Borthwick once the legal details of his departure from Bristol have been finalised.

Saracens’ defence coach Paul Gustard will definitely join the England coaching team, probably meaning that Andy Farrell will also be released from his position, although it was still unclear yesterday whether Farrell or Mike Catt would be remaining with England.

Farrell was both attack and defence coach under Stuart Lancaster, and could yet remain, even though Jones himself is known to be keen to take charge of the attack coaching of his new side. Catt was a skills coach under Lancaster, and Jones is understood to be seeking a backs and skills coach.

Sources at Bristol are still suggesting that Borthwick’s departure is not yet a ‘done deal’, but privately there is a resignation that he will join England, even if it is in a dual role with Bristol just for this season.

The Rugby Football Union are thought to be against such an arrangement, though, and it is this sort of delay that means that there has been no official announcement yet. It is expected this week.

Apparently there are no such problems at Saracens where Gustard, who has been responsible for the club becoming the best defensive side in the country and was first encouraged to coach by Jones while he was at Saracens, has been allowed to leave. Alex Sanderson, who has worked with Jones before, is, though, remaining at Saracens.

Jones will still probably seek to employ a scrummaging coach, a role Rowntree, who has been England’s forwards coach since 2008 during which time he also worked with the British and Irish Lions on tours to South Africa in 2009 and Australia in 2013, undertook as well as the wider forwards job.

Borthwick’s forte is not the scrummage and when he worked alongside Jones with Japan, Jones used Marc Dal Maso as a scrummage coach.

On Wednesday Matt Parker had become the first casualty of Jones’ new regime when he was informed that he would no longer be required in his role as head of athletic performance at the RFU. Parker had been recruited by Lancaster in 2012 from British Cycling, where he had had so much success with his ‘marginal gains’ philosophy.

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