Richard Cockerill, the last remaining assistant coach that Steve Borthwick inherited from the Eddie Jones era, is to quit his role as forwards coach at the end of the current Guinness Six Nations. A massive upheaval has taken place since Borthwick took over as head coach, with the likes of Matt Proudfoot and Martin Gleeson departing, and it was reported last month that Cockerill, who had joined England for the 2021/22 season after leaving Edinburgh, was also primed to exit.
Having previously played and coached in France, it was claimed that the ex-Leicester director of rugby was in the running for a job with Philippe Saint-Andre’s Montpellier, a link that was rubberstamped as official on Tuesday morning just days after England were beaten at home by Scotland in the opening round of the championship.
An RFU statement read: “Richard Cockerill will leave his role at England Rugby to join Montpellier as forwards coach. Cockerill will continue to work with England throughout the Guinness Six Nations.
“Cockerill, who achieved 27 caps for England in his playing career, joined the coaching staff in September 2021. He was also interim England head coach before the appointment of Steve Borthwick.”
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.”
Borthwick added: “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.”