Richard Cockerill will step down as England’s scrum coach to take charge of Montpellier’s forwards once the Six Nations has been completed, severing the last remaining tie to Eddie Jones’ management team.
Cockerill is the only coaching survivor from the Jones era after Matt Proudfoot, Brett Hodgson and Martin Gleeson departed in the wake of the Australian’s sacking in December.
The former Leicester and Edinburgh boss was retained by Steve Borthwick but his duties were reduced from being in overall charge of the pack to overseeing the revival of the worst performing scrum of any tier one nation in 2022.
Cockerill, who won 27 caps for England from 1997 to 1999, was recruited by Jones in September 2021 and served a brief spell as interim head coach until Borthwick was appointed.
“It has been an honour to not only play for my country, but to also get the chance to coach England,” Cockerill said.
“Having coached and played in France previously, my family and I always had aspirations to return.
“This opportunity presented itself some time ago and it was too hard to turn down, personally and professionally.
“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 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.”
England face an uphill struggle over the coming weeks after falling to a third-successive Calcutta Cup defeat by Scotland on Saturday, with Borthwick stating that the team he inherited from Jones “weren’t good at anything”.
The new red rose boss insisted it was Cockerill’s decision to move on.
“Richard has been, and continues to be, an excellent coach and has provided invaluable support and guidance to our players,” Borthwick said.
“You can tell how much pride he had in playing for his country and he has the same pride in working for his country as a coach. I know it was a difficult decision for him to leave and he has our support.
“We will continue to work hard together as a coaching group as we work to help build an England team that gets to where we all want it to be.”