Baxter and Gustard join England
Tue, 26 Mar 2013 16:46
Important we found coaches to mirror the skill set of Andy/Graham
Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter and Saracens defence and forwards coach Paul Gustard will join the England coaching team for the tour to Argentina in June.
Permanent coaches Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree are with the British and Irish Lions in Australia for the duration of the trip to South America and Stuart Lancaster has acted swiftly to secure the services of the established Premiership pair.
Subject to Exeter’s Premiership placings, Baxter, who has led the Chiefs since the start of 2009/10 season, will link up with England head coach Lancaster and attacking skills coach Mike Catt to prepare for the match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 26.
Similarly, former Leicester Tigers and London Irish lock Gustard will be available once Saracens’ Premiership and European Cup involvement has ended.
Lancaster outlined his pleasure at being able to work with two people who are graduates of the English coaching system and said it was crucial to find coaches who reflect the qualities of Rowntree and Farrell.
Baxter will lead on the set piece and breakdown, with Gustard taking charge of the defence, and Lancaster said: “We are delighted to have two quality coaches who have come through the English system for what will be a hugely significant tour for us and a big thank you should go to Saracens, Exeter and Premiership Rugby for supporting England in this way.
“It was important that we found two coaches who could mirror the skill set of Graham and Andy and come in and keep developing the players within our system.
“Paul, having worked together with Andy at Saracens already has a good understanding of how we operate and Rob, who has done a great job in developing a very competitive Exeter pack, will pick up the set-piece and breakdown. Both will work alongside Mike as part of our integrated coaching team.
“We are looking forward to both coaches joining us after their club commitments finish on what is an important tour in our development as a team.”
Baxter is a long-term servant of Exeter Chiefs, having spent 14 years with the Devon club - 10 as club captain. His three and a half years in sole charge has seen previously unknown levels of success, with promotion in the Premiership followed by eighth and fifth place finishes in the top tier and a first ever participation in the European Cup.
For the 42-year-old, the opportunity with England is a chance for him to practise what he preaches to his players, which is to continually search for ways to improve.
He said: “Obviously I am delighted to have been asked to be part of Stuart's coaching team. I see it as a fantastic opportunity for me to do what we keep saying to the players here at the club, which is to keep learning; keep doing better and experience new things.
“This is a great chance for me to experience something different; learn from other coaches such as Stuart, Mike and Paul; learn from different experiences and work with some different players.”
Gustard initially joined Saracens as a player in 2006 before moving into coaching four years ago and has helped to shape Sarries’ defence into one of the meanest in Europe.
He said: “It's obviously a great honour to be asked to assist in the preparation of the England squad. I am grateful to Saracens for giving me the opportunity to continue my development as a coach at national level."
The details of England’s tour matches are currently being finalised and will be announced in due course.
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