FORMER Leeds Tykes scrum-half Alan Dickens has been appointed England Under 20s head coach.
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He joins the Rugby Football Union from Northampton Saints where he was most recently defence coach for the Premiership side.
Dickens, 43, started out at Sale Sharks but joined Leeds where he played more than 70 games between 2002 and 2005 including the club’s famous Powergen Cup win over Bath.
He then joined Saracens and Northampton where he has been involved in the coaching set-up at Franklin’s Gardens since retiring as a player in 2010.
Dickens toured South Africa as defence coach with England Saxons in 2016 and becomes the second former Leeds player to join the national set-up in recent weeks after Jon Pendlebury became England UNder 18s head coach.
RFU head of professional rugby Nigel Melville said: “The Under 20s along with our Under 18s men squads are very important teams for the future of the senior national team and we are seeing significant transition through the pathway.
“Alan Dickens has worked in the Saxons set up before in 2016 and has also worked in the academy space so is experienced in the development of young players, and also has good Premiership experience so we feel he is a great choice for this role.
“He knows what it takes to develop future England internationals so is ideally placed to not only bring players through from U18s to U20s, but from 20s to the senior set up.
“His job will be to transition those players, but also work with our U18s head coach Jonathan Pendlebury to shape the next generation of England player coming through.”
Dickens said: “I’m thrilled to take on this important role with the RFU. The most exciting thing for me is seeing young players progress within their clubs, and ultimately then into the England first team squad.
“I’ve felt real pride in recent years seeing young Northampton players make the step up to international level, make their debuts and go on to play in Six Nations Championships and World Cups.
“The player pathway while I’ve been coaching has been really strong, with England reaching the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship nine times over the last 12 years and winning the tournament on three occasions, so of course I’m keen to continue that run of success.
“The numbers of players then getting capped from those teams is also phenomenal, so I’m really looking forward to helping these young guys progress through the pathway.
“I’m already looking forward to coming back to Franklin’s Gardens in February with England when we take on Ireland in the Six Nations Championship; it’s a proper rugby stadium with supporters who love the game, so that will be a special moment for me.”