At only 43 years of age, most people still remember him as a player rather than a coach. He was an absolute stalwart in the Bath, Saracens, and England teams for a decade at the turn of the century.
He turned out for Bath in 246 games and played 144 times for Saracens. He also played 51 games for England between 2001 and 2010 and was captain between 2008 and 2010 before he was dropped.
His rugby brain is held in high regard, and his first coaching gig started as an assistant coach for Japan from 2012 to 2015. From there he coached Bristol’s forwards during 2015 for a short period before becoming England’s forward coach from 2015 to 2020 and picking up a World Cup silver medal along the way.
In 2020 he became head coach at Leicester Tigers until 2022 and was then moved into the head coach position for England. There has been some harsh criticism against him since taking over the reins from Eddie Jones.
Keep in mind he took over a dysfunctional national team during a World Cup year, while his every move has been closely watched by the entire England rugby public. Such intense scrutiny comes at a great personal and professional price and it remains to be seen how he will deal with the challenges.
There has been very little to get excited about the team’s performance thus far except for the victory in the first week of the World Cup against Argentina. This a far cry from the dominant England reaching the 6 Nations Championship and World Cup finals, but it is a first step at the very least.
He deserves some time to build up this team and incorporate his coaching approach. If an accomplished player immediately gets the opportunity to get into a coaching career at a national level for an extended period of time, then there must be something special about him.
Will he be England’s Andy Farell? It is too early to say. I just hope they keep him in this position for a few more years so that we can see how this unfolds.