Wednesday 21 March 2018

Row brewing between Bristol and RFU over Steve Borthwick

Steve Borthwick
Steve Borthwick

Mick Cleary

The RFU has confirmed that former England lock and captain, Steve Borthwick, will take on the role of forwards coach, a step up from the job of lineout coach that he filled for Jones with Japan.

Borthwick had just started a coaching job with Championship side, Bristol and the club were quick to respond to the RFU's statement with their own.

Bristol claim they have "not agreed" Borthwick can leave and that the club "did not give the RFU permission to speak" to him.

"Bristol Rugby will take all reasonable actions as necessary to protect the club’s position and, therefore, will not be making any further statement at this stage."

Borthwick had looked to become the first part of Jones’s new management team. Saracens defence coach, Paul Gustard, is next in line with a deal expected to be announced shortly. Northampton backs coach, Alex King, has been targeted by Jones as the final piece of his coaching jigsaw to take into the 2016 Six Nations championship and beyond.

Borthwick was the first move that Jones made as he looked to assemble a coaching team that had an overt English hue to it.

The Australian had signed up the 36-year-old Cumbrian two years ago as lineout coach with Japan as soon as he had hung up his playing boots at Saracens where Jones himself had been coaching seven years ago. Borthwick was the lineout specialist for Japan and in the space of two years managed to transform a side that ceded height and weight to most opponents into an accomplished forward unit, seen to such significant effect in Japan’s Rugby World Cup triumph over the vaunted Springboks on the opening weekend of the tournament.

Jones has augmented that role, promoting Borthwick to overall forwards coach. In a statement on the RFU website, Jones said: “I am delighted that Steve has joined my coaching setup.

“I have known him for a long time through Saracens and Japan and he has done fantastic work as a coach. Steve has a huge amount of international experience as a player and a captain and his coaching in Japan in recent years shows he can get the best out of the players at the highest level. He is a great addition and I look forward to working with him again.”

“This is a really exciting opportunity to join the England setup and to link up with Eddie again,” said Borthwick. “This is a huge honour to be asked as these chances don’t come around often. We have an exciting group of players in England and I am really looking forward to the challenge and getting England beating the best teams in the world.”

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