Former England international and forwards coach Graham Rowntree has today announced that he is set to join London based Harlequins as of next season.
This news comes in the wake of the departure of current Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea who is set to leave at the end of the season to take on the mantle as head coach of the Italian national team.
Rowntree will bring a wealth of experience to the role having coached the England forwards for nearly a decade before being released by current England coach Eddie Jones after they endured their worst ever World Cup campaign, being embarrassingly knocked out of the competition before the group stages even finished.
The former Leicester prop also played an imperative role in the successful 2013 Lions tour of Australia as forwards coach, while also taking on the same role during the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa.
Since the announcement of O’ Shea’s departure has been made, many high profile names have been linked as a possible successor to the Irishman, including: ex-Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer, All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith and Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend.
Another name that has potentially gone under the radar is that of Lyn Jones. Having impressed with Newport Gwent Dragons in this seasons European Challenge Cup in reaching this weekend’s semi-finals, Jones has been recently spotted at the Harlequins training complex and it was announced earlier this week that he is to leave the Welsh region come the end of the season, adding further speculation to who will take on the role.
Former New Zealand captain and Harlequins board member Sean Fitzpatrick has been appointed with the responsibility of leading the panel in search of O’ Shea’s replacement. Word coming out of the Quins camp is that current back-rower Nick Easter and out-half Nick Evans are to take on player/coaching roles as of next season with current head coach John Kingston seemingly to be promoted to director of rugby.
With the appointment of Rowntree to Quins, this leaves Stuart Lancaster as the last remaining member of the England World Cup coaching panel to have found employment since they disbanded last November following that dismal World Cup.