The Rugby Football Union and the England Women’s head coach Gary Street have agreed to part company by mutual consent.
Graham Smith, the team’s assistant coach, will also leave his position following the end of this season’s Six Nations campaign.
Looking ahead to the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup it was felt by all parties that a change would be beneficial to take the women’s programme, which has evolved significantly in recent years, to the next stage.
Street has been involved in the women’s game since 2000 and was appointed head coach of the national side in 2007 following a brief stint as assistant coach. He led England to five consecutive Six Nations championship victories, including four Grand Slams and two World Cup finals. The last tournament, in 2014, saw the team lift the coveted trophy in Paris for the first time in 20 years.
He has been involved in international teams since 1992 having also coached England Students, U18, Academy and Sevens.
Following the team’s 2014 success, Street has received a number of personal and team related accolades including two coach of the year trophies at the UK Coaching Awards and Pride of Britain’s Coach of the Year.
The team picked up Team of the Year at the BBC’s Sports Personality awards and from the Sports Journalist Association as well as the Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswomen Team of the Year.
Smith, capped for England at U23 level and part of both England and Scotland squads, has been involved with the England women’s set-up since 2003 where he has worked as assistant coach. He played a significant role in three World Cup campaigns and the team winning seven consecutive Six Nations crowns.
Smith also led England to success in the 2012 European Cup in Italy but the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Paris was undoubtedly his most prestigious achievement in his time with the England Women’s senior squad.
“I have been part of an incredible journey for the last 14 years, and I am extremely proud of the part that I played in growing the women’s game to where it is now,” said Street.
“The pinnacle has to be winning the Rugby World Cup in France last year. However, huge credit must go to all the people involved in making that happen, not just the players but the backroom staff too and the many players and staff before that. It is a moment I will cherish forever. I now feel that I have achieved everything that I set out to do, and this is the right time to explore new challenges in my career.’
“I have enjoyed a tremendous career with the England’s women’s set-up with many highlights along the way, most noticeably winning the Rugby World Cup. I am moving forward and I am excited by the new challenges ahead,” added Smith.
“I am also looking forward to being part of the coaching team one final time for this year’s Six Nations as this young squad starts the process of building towards the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.”
In the interim, and while the recruitment process is underway to fill these positions full-time, Nicky Ponsford, head of performance, will oversee the head coach duties during the Six Nations, assisted by Smith as both assistant and forwards coach and RFU coaches Simon Middleton and Jo Yapp.