England Women find new coach in Middleton

Simon Middleton is the new England Women's Head Coach
Simon Middleton is the new England Women's Head Coach

Simon Middleton has been appointed as the new head coach of the England Women's side, the Rugby Football Union has announced.

Middleton, the current England Women's sevens head coach, is succeeding World Cup-winning boss Gary Street in taking permanent charge of the 15s and will hold both roles simultaneously in a change from the previous structure.

He is on a fixed-term contract that will run until the end of 2017, taking up the 15s post following the conclusion of the Sevens World Series in May.

Street, who led England to five successive Six Nations crowns until 2012 and back-to-back World Cup finals in 2010 and 2014, left the job in January, with the RFU's head of performance (women) Nicky Ponsford taking interim charge while a full-time replacement was sought.

In their current Six Nations campaign, England have so far lost to Wales and defeated Italy.

Middleton, who was the 15s' backs coach at the 2014 World Cup, said: "I am coming into this role when women's rugby is in a great place.

"It is a really exciting time to be involved. For me personally, this is a fantastic opportunity and a challenge I am really looking forward to.

"Being part of the team that won the World Cup last year was the pinnacle of my career, but we want England Rugby to continue to have those successes.

"I am sure these new coaching roles will attract some great calibre candidates and by integrating the 15s and sevens programmes more closely it will be critical to us achieving our goals."

Prior to joining the RFU a year ago and taking on the sevens programme and 15s World Cup backs jobs, 48-year-old Middleton was a Leeds Carnegie player and coach.

He will be assisted in his new combined role by three coaches across the 15-a-side and sevens programmes, who will report directly to him.