Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Rowntree, Catt, Farrell depart in England revamp

AFP, LONDON

Then-England forwards coach Graham Rowntree looks on during a training session at Twickenham in London on Sept. 25.

Photo: AP

Newly named England head coach Eddie Jones on Monday began overhauling his back-room staff, with coaches Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt all axed.

The exits follow Stuart Lancaster’s departure as head coach last month after England became the first host nation not to reach the World Cup knock-out stages.

“Having met with all of the coaches to talk through the future direction, we felt it was the right time to make changes,” said Jones, 55, who previously coached South Africa, Australia and Japan, “On behalf of the players that have benefited from their coaching and the [Rugby Football Union] RFU, I wish them the very best for the future.”

“They are all experienced guys and have contributed greatly to this England team over recent years, and I know everyone at the union is appreciative of their hard work and commitment,” said Jones, who succeeded Lancaster on a four-year deal in November.

The trio — all England internationals — coached England to 22 victories in 36 Tests alongside Lancaster, with the highlight being a Twickenham win against world champions New Zealand in 2012.

However, this year’s World Cup campaign was a failure, with England suffering pool-stage defeats against Wales and Australia and missing out on the quarter-finals.

Lancaster departed within a fortnight of the tournament finishing, with Jones appointed shortly afterward.

Former Wigan rugby league star Farrell became England backs coach in 2011 and, together with forwards specialist Rowntree, was part of the 2013 British and Irish Lions coaching staff headed by Warren Gatland who claimed a Test series-winning triumph against Australia.

Former Leicester prop Rowntree joined the England coaching set-up in 2008, initially working with Lancaster’s predecessor Martin Johnson, while former Bath and London Irish back Catt took up an England skills coach role in 2012.

The decision to axe Farrell was sparked by heavy criticism from senior players in the post-World Cup review, according to reports.

A significant number of the England squad told the RFU that Farrell had to be held accountable for his role in the World Cup debacle.

Lancaster was previously criticized in some quarters for allowing Farrell too much authority and several players are thought to have told the review panel England should play a more expansive game, suggesting Farrell was a fan of the conservative approach.

With just 54 days before England start their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Murrayfield, Jones has made his first significant move to put his own stamp on the squad.

He hopes the changes will bring a fresh impetus that can reinvigorate his players.

“Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree, Mike Catt — they are outstanding coaches, but I just feel at this stage that for England we need to have some new thoughts and new ideas come in,” Jones said. “Obviously, one of the most unpleasant things to do is to let people go. You try to give the people due process.”

“I obviously spoke to a lot of people about what’s happened with England, got different views, from players, administrators and other coaches,” he said. “I think [I need] guys that can work with me, that understand my philosophy of play, that can add to my philosophy of play and can add to England going forward.”

Saracens defense and forwards coach Paul Gustard and former England captain Steve Borthwick are believed to be joining a new-look coaching support team.

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