England head coach Steve Borthwick is seeking a new forwards coach with the 2023 Rugby World Cup just seven months away following confirmation Richard Cockerill will leave his role with the national team to join Montpellier as the French club in the same role.
Former hooker Cockerill, who earned 27 caps for England in his playing career, joined the England coaching staff in September 2021 and will continue to work with England throughout the Guinness Six Nations. He was also interim England head coach before the appointment of Steve Borthwick.
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Cockerill joins a growing English contingent at Montpellier next season with Exeter Chiefs duo Sam Simmonds and Luke Cowan-Dickie joining the Top 14 side after the Rugby World Cup, with team mate Harry Williams also linked. Former Bath trio Henry Thomas, Elliott Stooke and Zach Mercer are currently playing for Montpellier although the later has already signed a deal to join Gloucester next season.
Borthwick, who replaced Eddie Jones as England head coach in December and has already brought in rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield as his defence coach and former All Black fly-half Nick Evans as he attack coach, said: “Richard has been, and continues to be, an excellent coach and has provided invaluable support and guidance to our players.
“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 be.”
The new England forwards coach, who is yet to be announced, will have just four World Cup warm-up fixtures to work with the national team before the tournament in France gets underway against Argentina on September 9.
England play Wales home and away, Ireland and Fiji during the summer.
Cockerill said: “It has been an honour to not only play for my country but to also get the chance to coach England.
“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 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.
“I know how much playing for England means for this group and I look forward to watching them later in the year and seeing just what they can achieve. It’s exciting to see what change has happened so far in such a short period of time.”
England next take on Italy at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday [12 February, 3pm KO].
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