Richard Cockerill will leave Steve Borthwick’s England set-up after the Six Nations, with Saracens’ Ian Peel still the top choice for a new scrum coach.
Former Leicester boss Cockerill has taken the early scrum reins under new head coach Borthwick, but will now join French Top 14 outfit Montpellier as forwards coach after the Six Nations.
Saracens scrum coach Peel has been Borthwick’s premier target for the specialist role ever since the ex-England captain took charge as head coach in December.
Cockerill joined Eddie Jones’ England staff in September 2021, and stayed in the Test ranks after the Australian was sacked on December 6, while fellow assistants Matt Proudfoot, Martin Gleeson and Anthony Seibold all departed.
Borthwick left his Leicester job to take the England helm, with his Tigers assistant Kevin Sinfield joining him as his right-hand man.
Harlequins assistant Nick Evans has stepped in for the Six Nations to handle the attack, but now Cockerill’s impending departure will lead to more upheaval.
Cockerill insisted that he had hoped to stay with England until the World Cup in September, suggesting his offer from Montpellier was time-sensitive.
“It has been an honour to not only play for my country but also to get a chance to coach England,” said Cockerill.
“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 professionally and personally.
“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.”
Saracens scrum specialist Peel worked on England’s set-piece at the start of the Jones era for the 2016 Six Nations, and has since continued to build a formidable reputation in with the Premiership
Cockerill’s departure will further allow Borthwick to shape his backroom staff into his own vision.
“Richard has been and continues to be an excellent coach, and has provided invaluable support and guidance to our players,” said Borthwick.
“You can tell how much pride he ha din 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.”