Kevin Sinfield joins England coaching staff as Steve Borthwick named head coach on a five-year contract
Borthwick, 43, masterminded Leicester’s Gallagher Premiership title triumph last season, and he succeeds Eddie Jones in English rugby’s top job. Jones was sacked almost two weeks ago after presiding over England’s worst year of results since 2008, managing only five wins from 12 games.
The Rugby Football Union also announced that Leicester assistant coach and former Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield will join Borthwick as defence coach at Twickenham. Borthwick will take up his England role from today, the RFU said, with Sinfield beginning work later this week.
“I am deeply honoured to be appointed England head coach, and I am very excited by the challenge,” Borthwick said, in a statement released by the RFU.
“The English game is full of talent and I want to build a winning team which makes the most of our huge potential and inspires young people to fall in love with rugby union the way I did.
“I want the whole country to be proud of us and to enjoy watching us play. The hard work starts now and planning for the Guinness Six Nations and Rugby World Cup begins today. I will give it everything.”
Leicester have moved quickly after agreeing terms for Borthwick and Sinfield to be released early from their club contracts. Tigers have appointed Richard Wigglesworth as interim head coach, with the former Leicester and Saracens scrum-half retiring from playing.
Borthwick, a former England skipper and ex-England forwards coach, won 57 caps and played almost 400 times for Bath and Saracens as an outstanding second-row forward. He joined Leicester as head coach in 2020, transforming their fortunes from a club in the Premiership’s lower reaches to title winners.
His first England game at the helm will be a Guinness Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 4. Borthwick will report to RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney, who confirmed that the Cumbrian was the Union’s first choice to succeed Jones.
Warren Gatland, Ronan O’Gara and Scott Robertson had been among the names touted to replace Jones. Sweeney said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Steve back to the RFU. He has been part of the England team for over 15 years and he is our first-choice successor to Eddie.
“Steve and Kevin’s insight and first-hand knowledge of the players will be a great asset, and everyone at the RFU is right behind them with our full support.”
Sinfield, meanwhile, enjoyed a glittering rugby league playing career, leading the Rhinos to seven Super League crowns and two Challenge Cup wins. He also represented Great Britain 14 times and England on 26 occasions.
He has raised over £7milion for charity and championed research in support of ex-Leeds team-mate Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
Sinfield said: “It is a special moment to join England as a coach. I know what representing your country means, and to get the chance to do it as a coach is a real honour.
“There is so much player talent in England, and I am really looking forward to working with the wider squad of players to see what we can achieve together, especially with such a massive year ahead of us.
“I would like to thank everyone at Leicester Tigers, the players, staff and supporters, for welcoming me to the club. I have loved my time there and wish them all the best for the rest of the season.”
The RFU added that Borthwick’s wider coaching team will be announced in the coming weeks.