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Graham Rowntree 'genuinely delighted' when England won Six Nations Grand Slam

Published 27/04/2016

Graham Rowntree is to take up the post of forwards coach with Aviva Premiershop club Harlequins
Graham Rowntree is to take up the post of forwards coach with Aviva Premiershop club Harlequins

Graham Rowntree insists he was "genuinely delighted" at England's Six Nations Grand Slam, despite admitting frustrations to be watching from the sidelines and not coaching.

Rowntree hailed Eddie Jones' "great job" in dragging England out of their post-World Cup mire, on his unveiling as Harlequins' new forwards coach for next season.

England's former forwards coach tipped Stuart Lancaster to make a quick return to frontline coaching, while also admitting the World Cup failure "will always be a regret".

Rowntree will join Harlequins in the summer when John Kingston will replace Conor O'Shea as rugby director, with Mark Mapletoft head coach and Nick Easter assuming a player-coach role.

"To be given the opportunity to come and coach here, I couldn't resist, honestly it really excites me," said Rowntree.

"I've been speaking to John Kingston on and off for a long time but when he mooted this to me I said 'yes, yes please'. It was a very quick decision.

"I loved the Six Nations, and I was very proud of them winning, because we were so close for such a long time.

"So for those lads involved in those near-misses, and the whole rugby nation, the whole disappointment of the World Cup, for the rugby nation to have those two trophies, I'm proud.

"They've done exceptionally well and I was genuinely delighted when I watched them lift that trophy."

Rowntree's appointment at Harlequins just leaves Lancaster still seeking coaching work from England's World Cup backroom staff.

England became the worst-performing hosts in World Cup history in October, eliminated from their own tournament after just 16 days.

Lancaster, Andy Farrell, Mike Catt and Rowntree paid with their jobs, with former Australia boss Jones drafted in and since guiding England to the Grand Slam.

Farrell has since been appointed Ireland's defence coach, while Catt will join O'Shea with Italy in the summer.

England felt the frustration of four second-place Six Nations finishes under Lancaster, but Rowntree insists there is no bitterness whatsoever in the new-found success under new boss Jones.

Asked if he felt any frustration in watching England succeed under Jones where they had fallen short under Lancaster, Rowntree said: "Of course, of course. But no resentment, absolutely none.

"I think they did a great job, the new coaching team.

"We've all moved on. I've moved on.

"The time since the World Cup has gone very quickly, I had a lot of time with the family, I've watched a lot of rugby, I've probably watched more rugby than ever, looking at it from a different context.

"The World Cup will always be a regret, to say the least, but you have to move on in life. The team has moved on, the country has moved on.

"It was a terrible experience, but you learn elements from it and you move forward.

"Of course I would have stayed on with England. There were a lot of wrongs to put right.

"Eddie wanted to go down a different route and this is a new chapter for me. Here we are. Without that, this wouldn't have happened.

"I was keen to get back coaching as soon as I could, I had an enforced exile from the game, that was well-documented.

"It was a hard period to be honest with you, but I'm not going to dwell on that much, because I learned a lot in that period and I'm going to use that going forward.

"And you've got to look forward, very quickly, six months down the line, I'm here, I'm refreshed, and ready.

"Fresh to go, ready to start tomorrow, they wouldn't let me by the way.

"I've got a lot of energy to give the game still, so here I am."

Incoming rugby director Kingston will seek to bolster Quins' recruitment of overseas stars, and appoint a sports psychologist.

The current head coach explained "poacher-turned-gamekeeper" Easter will focus mostly on his role of defence coach next term, while also available to play as required.

Lancaster has already spoken of his interest in coaching in the southern hemisphere, and Rowntree tipped the former England boss to be back in a frontline rugby job in next to no time.

"I'm sure he'll be back in work soon," said Rowntree of Lancaster.

"I know he's had various opportunities and offers and he's just picking the right one, like we all are."

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