England: Richard Cockerill to leave after the Six Nations to join Montpellier

Jared Wright
England coach Richard Cockerill will vacate his role within Steve Borthwick’s coaching staff to join Top 14 club Montpellier after the Six Nations.

England forwards coach Richard Cockerill will vacate his role within Steve Borthwick’s coaching staff to join Top 14 club Montpellier after the Six Nations.

Cockerill is set to take up the same role at Montpellier, where he will work with the likes of Sam Simmonds and Luke Cowan-Dickie next season.

The former hooker represented England 27 times during his playing career and joined the coaching staff in September 2021 under then head coach of the Red Rose, Eddie Jones.

He was also interim England head coach for a brief stint before the appointment of Borthwick. Before joining the England set-up, he coached Leicester Tigers, winning four Premiership titles between 2009 and 2016. He had a brief stint with Toulon before joining Edinburgh in 2017 and eventually England.

Timings weren’t mean to be

Cockerill was the last remaining assistant from Jones’ tenure as head coach.

“It has been an honour to not only play for my country but to also get the chance to coach England,” Cockerill said in an RFU statement.

“Having coached and played in France previously, my family and I always had aspirations to return. This opportunity presented itself some time ago, and it was too hard to turn down personally and professionally.

“It is disappointing not to work with Steve and the wider team beyond the Six Nations. I had hoped to be able stay for the Rugby World Cup, but the timings weren’t meant to be.

“I will continue to be fully focused on England and this Six Nations campaign, working with this group of players as they begin a new journey together.

“I know how much playing for England means for this group, and I look forward to watching them later in the year and seeing just what they can achieve. It’s exciting to see what change has happened so far in such a short period of time.”

Invaluable support

Head coach Borthwick paid tribute to Cockerill, saying he provided invaluable support to the squad.

“Richard has been, and continues to be, an excellent coach and has provided invaluable support and guidance to our players,” Cockerill said.

“You can tell how much pride he had in playing for his country, and he has the same pride in working for his country as a coach. I know it was a difficult decision for him to leave, and he has our support.

“We will continue to work hard together as a coaching group as we work to help build an England team that gets to where we all want it be.”

Montpellier boss Philippe Saint-André welcomed Cockerill to the club.

“President Mohed Altrad and the whole club are very happy with the arrival of Richard Cockerill next season,” Saint-André said.

“The MHR was looking for a world-class forwards coach to follow up on the departure of Olivier Azam. Richard is an experienced and complete technician who will supervise our pack on many aspects of the game: touch, scrum, balls carried and everything related to the game of forwards.

“He knows France and our championship very well, is perfectly bilingual and will fit in very well within the staff, alongside Jean-Baptiste Elissalde – who will remain head coach and take care of the general movement – ​​Alexandre Ruiz and Bruce Reihana.”

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