Northampton have confirmed the club’s new coaching structure for the 2017/18 campaign, which includes Phil Dowson becoming assistant coach.
Dowson wrote his name into the club’s history by being the first player to lift a major domestic trophy for Saints, the 2010 Anglo-Welsh Cup, just one of his 187 first team appearances in a six-year playing career at Franklin’s Gardens.
Dowson – who also helped lift the Premiership and Challenge Cup trophies in 2014 – was one of the senior leaders throughout his time at the club, driving standards on and off the pitch, and this summer he returns to the East Midlands.
Dowson completes a coaching quartet also including Alan Dickens, Mark Hopley and Dorian West. Dickens will build on his work leading an attack which has seen the Saints average three-and-a-half tries per game since the turn of the year, while Hopley steps up from his role as senior academy coach to run the first team’s defence. West continues as forwards coach.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that he has full confidence in the coaches’ abilities to bring the best out of the players and get the team back to the top of English rugby.
“We believe we have a strong, stable and committed group of coaches that will take the team forward next season,” he said. “The first half of the current season was not what we wanted it to be, but since Christmas we have been playing some good rugby in all competitions, scoring tries and being very competitive in every game.
“Dorian, Alan and Mark have a strong working relationship and we are seeing the benefits of that on the pitch. Alan’s qualities were recognised last season when he helped England Saxons to a two-nil series win over the Emerging Springboks, Mark deserves his opportunity at this level after his excellent work with the Senior Academy over a number of years and the first team in the past few months, and both of them have achieved the highest possible level of coaching qualifications with the RFU.
“Stability is a hallmark of many successful teams, but it also good to freshen things up and we’re delighted to be welcoming Phil Dowson back to the club. Phil has been a leader throughout his playing career, whether at Newcastle, here at the Saints, or with the England Saxons, and played a key role in establishing the culture that took us to the top of the Aviva Premiership. He was always a coach on the field and we know that he will have the respect of the players. He’s had a great playing career and has everything it takes to be a successful coach, too.”