Cockerill to leave England & Wigglesworth to join

1 month ago 25
Richard Cockerill in England trainingRichard Cockerill was head coach at Edinburgh before joining England
Venue: Twickenham Stadium Date: Sunday, 12 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra; follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Richard Cockerill will leave as England forwards coach after the Six Nations while Richard Wigglesworth and Aled Walters will join from Leicester at the end of the season.

Saracens forwards coach Ian Peel is expected to take over from Cockerill, who will join French club Montpellier.

Wigglesworth - interim head coach at Leicester - will be assistant to his former Tigers boss Steve Borthwick.

Strength and conditioning will be led by Walters heading into the World Cup.

Slade in 36-man England squadSix Nations round one talking points

Cockerill was the only remaining assistant coach from Eddie Jones' reign after Borthwick succeeded the Australian as head coach in December.

The former England hooker joined the staff in September 2021 and said it was "an honour" to have played for and coached his country.

Wigglesworth and Walters are the latest members of Borthwick's previous coaching set-up with Leicester - where he won the Premiership title in 2022 - to join him at England.

Borthwick took defence coach Kevin Sinfield with him when he took the England job.

Harlequins' Nick Evans is serving as England's attack coach during the Six Nations and Wigglesworth may step in to fill that role when he joins.

Wigglesworth and Walters join as England rebuild

Richard Wigglesworth smiling in a Leicester coatRichard Wigglesworth won three Champions Cup and seven Premiership titles in a 20-year playing career

Cockerill won 27 England caps and was briefly interim head coach following Jones' sacking.

After five wins from 12 Tests in 2022, Borthwick is attempting to rebuild the side before the World Cup that begins in France in September.

That process began with a narrow defeat by Scotland in their Six Nations opener at Twickenham on Saturday, after which Borthwick acknowledged failings in England's set-piece.

Former Newcastle forward Peel was previously head coach of England Under-20s, while Welsh-born Walters was part of the World Cup-winning South Africa set-up in 2019.

Wigglesworth earned 33 England caps and was Canada's defence and kicking coach at the 2019 World Cup.

Borthwick described Wigglesworth and Walters as "outstanding coaches", adding of the former scrum-half: "Few people have such an in-depth, wide-ranging view and understanding of the tactical element of the game."

Cockerill will be 'fully focussed' on Six Nations

Cockerill, who was previously head coach of French side Toulon and "always had aspirations to return" to work in the Top14, said: "This opportunity presented itself some time ago.

"It is disappointing not to work with Steve and the wider team beyond the Six Nations. I had hoped to be able to 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.

"It's exciting to see what change has happened so far in such a short period of time."

Borthwick described Cockerill as "an excellent coach" and added: "It was a difficult decision for him to leave and he has our support."

Analysis - 'More coaching upheaval'

BBC rugby union correspondent Chris Jones

While England's forward play was mixed during his tenure, Cockerill was a popular figure with the players, with Borthwick hailing his "invaluable support and guidance".

Cockerill's departure will lead to even more coaching upheaval, but this is perhaps an unavoidable consequence of the RFU making a regime change when they did, with Borthwick understandably keen to bring his own staff in.

It means Borthwick will have a full coaching team of his own in time for the Rugby World Cup, although we wait for confirmation on Cockerill's replacement - expected to be Ian Peel.

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