Eddie Jones has challenged his latest coaching addition, Paul Gustard, to add more bite to England’s defence when he starts work at the end of January.
Gustard has now been officially confirmed in the role and will conclude his 10-year association with Saracens in six weeks.
Unlike Steve Borthwick, whose arrival is the subject of a continuing contractual dispute between the Rugby Football Union and Bristol, the 39-year-old Gustard is moving to Twickenham with the blessing of his club after helping to guide them to two Premiership titles and a European final.
Jones described him as “a quality coach” and is optimistic that he will prove equally effective with the national team.
“An important part of England going forward is to make sure we keep the traditional and fundamental bits of English rugby in place,” said Jones. “That has always been a strong set piece, then have a very aggressive defence with Paul Gustard. He has overseen Saracens’ growth as a team, he has produced an aggressive defence system there and we are hoping he can do the same for England.”
Gustard had an 11-year professional career as a flanker, playing in 173 Premiership games for Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Saracens and was picked for England squads at every level without ever winning a full senior cap. He has previously been involved with England as a coach on the 2013 tour to Argentina when his predecessor Andy Farrell was away coaching with the British and Irish Lions.
While Jones plans to take charge of England’s backs, Gustard is looking forward to his new challenge. “To be given the chance with England is hugely humbling and I am thrilled to be involved,” he said. “This has been a difficult decision to make but to coach England is an opportunity you just don’t turn down.”
Saracens’ director of rugby, Mark McCall, is confident Gustard will thrive in his new role. “We are all delighted that Paul’s ability as a coach is being recognised at the highest level in the game. Paul is the consummate professional and I’m certain he will be a success with England when he takes up his role in the new year.
“During his time at the Saracens his contribution to transforming the club has been huge. Although it is always sad to see a man of his talent and integrity leave the club, his energy and vitality, his ‘unique’ sense of humour and close connections with the playing group and staff has contributed massively to our success.”
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