Paul Gustard has joined Eddie Jones’ backroom staff as England’s new defence coach.
Gustard was under contract with Saracens until June 2017 but the RFU has agreed a deal to bring him in where he will be responsible for England’s defence, a role Andy Farrell filled during Stuart Lancaster’s tenure.
Jones knows Gustard well having coached him during his tenure at Saracens and then appointed him to the coaching staff in 2008. Gustard is the second piece of the backroom staff jigsaw with Steve Borthwick on board as forwards coach, pending the final details of the compensation package with Bristol.
Jones said: “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 and a very aggressive defence.
“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 took on the role of Saracens’ defence coach in 2008-09 after spells with Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Saracens as a player. He brought in a new aggressive method of defence at Sarries, one labelled the ‘wolfpack’ mentality, which focuses on minimising space for the attacking team with an emphasis on winning the ball back and forcing errors. That defence ethos helped them to Aviva Premiership titles in 2011 and 2015.
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.”