Saracens and Exeter duo join England set-up for Argentina tour
PUBLISHED: 16:50 26 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:51 26 March 2013
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Saracens defence specialist Paul Gustard and Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter will join Stuart Lancaster's revamped England management team for the summer tour of Argentina, it was confirmed today.
Baxter and Gustard have been recruited to fill in for Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, who will be on British and Irish Lions duty at the same time England embark on their four-match, two-Test trip to South America.
Lancaster will also be supported by Mike Catt, the attacking skills coach who landed a permanent role in the England set-up after impressing on last summer’s tour of South Africa.
Baxter masterminded Exeter’s rise from the Championship into the Heineken Cup and he was named Premiership Rugby’s coach of the year for the 2011-12 season.
Gustard runs the meanest defence in the Aviva Premiership, with table-topping Saracens having conceded just 17 tries in 18 matches so far this season.
The Rugby Football Union said in a statement: “Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter and Saracens defence and forwards coach Paul Gustard will join the England coaching team for the tour to Argentina in June.”
“We are delighted to have two quality coaches who have come through the English system for what will be a hugely-significant tour for us and a big thank you should go to Saracens, Exeter and Premiership Rugby for supporting England in this way,” Lancaster said.
“It was important that we found two coaches who could mirror the skill set of Graham and Andy while they are away and come in and keep developing the players within our system.
“Paul, having worked together with Andy at Saracens, already has a good understanding of how we operate and Rob, who has done a great job in developing a very competitive Exeter pack, will pick up the set piece and breakdown.
“Both will work alongside Mike Catt as part of our integrated coaching team and we are looking forward to them joining us after their club commitments finish on what is an important tour in our development as a team.”
With Exeter unlikely to reach the Premiership play-offs, Baxter is set to link up with England ahead of their annual pre-tour match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 26.
Gustard’s availability depends on how well Saracens finish the season, with the club chasing Heineken Cup and Premiership honours.
If Saracens reach the Premiership final on May 25, Gustard will miss the Barbarians game but he will then link up with the England squad ahead of their first tour match.
England play two midweek tour matches and two Tests against the Pumas, with the opposition and venue details due to be finalised in the coming days.
Baxter said: “I am delighted to have been asked to be part of Stuart’s coaching team.
“I see it as a fantastic opportunity for me to do what we keep saying to the players here at the club, which is to keep learning, keep doing better and experience new things.”
Gustard said: “It’s a great honour to be asked to assist in the preparation of the England squad.
“I am grateful to Saracens for giving me the opportunity to continue my development as a coach at national level.”