Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell is to take over as the head coach of the England women’s team later this year, the Rugby Football Union announced Thursday.
Mitchell, 59, will replace Simon Middleton, who stood down after eight years at the helm following England’s Six Nations Grand Slam triumph at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Red Roses, the dominant force in the European women’s game, won 30 successive matches before losing to hosts New Zealand in last year’s World Cup final.
Mitchell, currently the defence coach for the Japan men’s team, will take up his England role following October’s men’s World Cup in France.
Louis Deacon will retain his post as forwards coach. Former captain Sarah Hunter, England’s most-capped player who retired in May, will join the backroom staff to work on the side’s breakdown play.
Lou Meadows has been promoted from her role as Under-20s head coach to attack coach for the senior team, with Charlie Hayter becoming head of women’s performance.
Mitchell led his native New Zealand to the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup and his career has also included two spells with the England men’s team, as forwards coach from 1997-2000 under Clive Woodward and defence coach between 2018-2021 when Eddie Jones was in charge of the national side.
His chief aim will be to guide England to the title when they stage the 2025 women’s World Cup. England twice lost in the final to New Zealand under Middleton.
“The Red Roses have set an incredible standard and foundation for women’s rugby, being the most successful team in the Six Nations which is a tremendous achievement,” said Mitchell in a RFU statement.
“We now have the opportunity to build on this, mature in key areas and become a truly champion side that can rightfully contest for the World Cup in 2025.
“I would like to honour the hugely supportive Red Roses fans with successful performances as we work towards winning and selling out Twickenham Stadium for the Rugby World Cup in 2025.”
England clinched the Grand Slam this season with a 38-33 win over France at Twickenham in front of a crowd of 58,498 — a world record attendance for a women’s rugby international.
Executive director of performance rugby, Conor O’Shea, said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming John back to England Rugby together with Louis, Charlie, Sarah and Lou.
“This will be a formidable coaching team to take the Red Roses to the next stage in their development,” added the former Ireland full-back.
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