Harlequins is delighted to announce that England defence coach Paul Gustard will join the London club as Head of Rugby, following the conclusion of England’s summer tour to South Africa.
"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.”
The former Saracens assistant coach joined Eddie Jones and his coaching team at the start of 2016. During his time as coach England won the Grand Slam, back-to-back Six Nations titles and a first ever series win in Australia.
“We were determined to recruit a coach with a proven track record in delivering a winning team and environment, and we have done that,” said Harlequins’ Chief Executive, David Ellis.
“Paul has extensive experience at the highest levels with Saracens and England and is one of the most respected coaches in world rugby.
"Over the last two years, he has won trophies and titles with England and, of course, he knows the Premiership very well, having been an integral part of Saracens’ recent successes. We are confident that Paul is the ideal coach to take the Club forward.
“We are very grateful to the RFU for its support and co-operation in releasing Paul early from his contract with England. Harlequins prides itself on being a supplier of talent to the national team and this move will hopefully enhance that already excellent relationship.”
The appointment sees the previous Director of Rugby role at Harlequins split in two, Head of Rugby and General Manager (Rugby). Gustard, 42, as Head of Rugby, will over-see the day-to-day coaching of Harlequins’ rugby squads. He will work alongside the General Manager (Rugby), who will be responsible for enabling high-performance across the Club’s entire rugby department (including women and academy structures), player and coach recruitment and contracts. Both posts will report to the Chief Executive.
Ellis added: "We will be announcing the appointment of a new General Manager in due course. The two leadership roles in the Club's new rugby operations structure is an important step towards our long-term ambition of taking Harlequins back to the very top of English and European rugby.”