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Paul Harding Gustard has been England defence coach since 2016.
# big loss
England defence coach Gustard steps down to take Harlequins job
The former Leicester, London Irish and Saracens flanker will leave Eddie Jones’ backroom staff 15 months out from the World Cup.

LAST UPDATE | May 21st 2018, 1:14 PM

HARLEQUINS HAVE ANNOUNCED that Paul Gustard is leaving his post as England defence coach to join the London club.

Harlequins finished a lowly 10th in the 12-team Premiership this season, with their now former director of rugby John Kingston announcing in April he would leave at the end of the campaign.

Gustard has been England’s defence coach since January 2016 and was one of the first appointments made by Australian head coach Eddie Jones when he took over after the team’s first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup.

The former Saracens flanker was under contract with England’s governing Rugby Football Union until after next year’s World Cup in Japan, and Gustard will take his place among Jones’s staff for next month’s three-Test tour of South Africa before departing.

Harlequins have split the director of rugby role in two, with Gustard looking after the day-to-day coaching as head of rugby and a yet-to-be-appointed general manager responsible for enabling high-performance across the club as well as player and coach recruitment and contracts.

“Opportunities like this don’t come along very often,” said Gustard. “To be given the chance to lead a club as rich in talent, heritage and support as Harlequins is hugely exciting.

“I am a proud Englishman and it has been a privilege to represent my country and work under Eddie. There have been some incredible memories which I will cherish, and I will look back proudly on my contribution with England. I am desperate for England to do well as we push on to World Cup glory next year.

My relationship with Eddie is strong and positive. He has supported me in accepting this new role and I will continue to have a strong relationship with him on our tour to South Africa and beyond. He was the first to give me an opportunity in 2008 and again in 2016 when he recruited me for England. I will always be thankful to him.

“However, I am now ready to lead a team and I am thrilled to have this chance at one of the Premiership’s biggest clubs. I just couldn’t turn this opportunity down. It is incredibly exciting to be part of the next chapter at Quins.

“I would like to thank the RFU and Eddie personally for their support and for allowing me to leave early to take up this fantastic opportunity with Harlequins.”

Gustard helped former Wallaby and Japan boss Jones guide England to two Six Nations titles in his first two seasons in charge only for the side to suffer a slump this term as they finished fifth.

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– © AFP 2018 with additional reporting from Ben Blake 

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