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RFU and Bristol come to agreement over Steve Borthwick England role

Published 19/12/2015

Bristol owner Steve Lansdown has spoken out about the Rugby Football Union's attempts to recruit the club's forwards coach Steve Borthwick
Bristol owner Steve Lansdown has spoken out about the Rugby Football Union's attempts to recruit the club's forwards coach Steve Borthwick

The Rugby Football Union says it has reached an agreement with Bristol to release former England captain Steve Borthwick from his coaching contract with the Championship club.

In a statement, the RFU said that Borthwick would start work "with immediate effect" as England forwards coach.

It means Borthwick formally linking up with new England head coach Eddie Jones after personal terms were agreed earlier this week.

Earlier on Saturday, Bristol owner Steve Lansdown hit out at the RFU in a radio interview for what he termed "totally unprofessional" behaviour over their recruitment push for Borthwick.

The RFU released a statement four days ago saying that Borthwick would join Jones' support staff. Until Saturday, though, Bristol had not formally released him from a long-term contract he had with them.

Borthwick worked alongside Australian Jones during the World Cup this year, carrying out assistant coaching duties with Japan during a campaign highlighted by their famous pool win against South Africa in Brighton.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: "We very much appreciate that our approach for Steve has come at a challenging time for Bristol during the season, and in such circumstances I thank them for reaching this agreement.

"I would like to thank, in particular, the club's chairman Chris Booy for concluding the matter."

And Booy added: "On behalf of the club we wish Steve Borthwick the very best with England, and we are pleased that we can move on and begin the process to recruit a new coach as quickly as possible."

The agreement over Borthwick comes after Thursday's announcement that Saracens' Paul Gustard will link-up with Jones as defence coach ahead of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Speaking before the RFU announcement on BBC Radio Bristol, Lansdown said: "They (RFU) think they can ride roughshod over everybody, but they are finding out they can't. I can't believe that the governing body has acted in such a way.

"It is totally unprofessional. I don't think the RFU have covered themselves in any form of glory whatsoever.

"Our stance, from Steve Borthwick's point of view, is that it is a big career move and we don't want to stand in his way. But we want adequate compensation to allow him to go.

"We put in a lot of time and effort in recruiting Steve.

"He has been in a short period of time and made a big difference to us already and we hav an eye on winning the (Championship) play-offs. We wanted him for that. We have aims and ambitions."

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