Saracens have confirmed that forwards and defence coach Paul Gustard will leave the club at the end of January to join England as defence coach.
After a ten-year association with Saracens as both a player and a coach, Gustard will leave the Allianz Park side to join former Saracens director of rugby Eddie Jones’ new-look coaching team. He will link-up with England after Saracens’ fixture in January against Toulouse.
A highly respected coach, Gustard’s impact with Saracens has been seismic. He has helped the club become Premiership champions on two occasions, establishing the north Londoners’ as one of European rugby’s most feared sides. The introduction of much-famed ‘Wolfpack’ defence is another lasting legacy of his time with the Men in Black.
On his decision to accept England’s offer, Paul Gustard said: “To be given the chance with England is hugely humbling and I am thrilled to be involved. I would like to thank Saracens for allowing me to leave and take up this opportunity. I hope that experience will stand me in good stead for this next challenge.
“This has been a difficult decision to make, but to coach England is an opportunity you just don’t turn down. I have enjoyed ten wonderful years at Saracens, both as a player and as a coach.
“It’s been an incredible journey. I have made some amazing memories as part of such a special group, but there is a very exciting opportunity ahead for me that I’m really looking forward to.
“My focus now is the next six weeks by helping this brilliant playing and coaching group prepare for some important games.”
Saracens director of rugby, Mark McCall: “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 at the club. We now have a huge six weeks ahead of which Paul will have a big part to play.”
Eddie Jones, England head coach said: “I’m really pleased to have Paul join us as he is a quality coach who has done some fantastic things at Saracens. We appreciate that we were able to work with Saracens to get him on board.
“An important part of England going forward is to make sure we keep the traditional and fundamental bits of English rugby in place and 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.”