Tigers CEO Pinchen on Leicester’s plan for Steve Borthwick’s succession

Heading into this next block of Heineken Champions Cup fixtures Leicester Tigers have lost two games in a row
©David Howlett

Over three weeks since the departure of Steve Borthwick as Leicester Tigers’ head coach, the club’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrea Pinchen, says that she is not putting a timeframe on who will be the new England boss’s replacement.

When Borthwick was unveiled by the Rugby Football Union [RFU] in December, their CEO, Bill Sweeney, revealed that the 43-year-old was at the top of their list to succeed Eddie Jones. 

Having taken Tigers from the foot of the Gallagher Premiership table to English champions in two years, Borthwick was initially touted as taking on the England job following the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Following a poor run of form from the England squad across 2022 where the side finished with their first losing calendar year since 2008 and a poor Autumn Nations Series campaign which ended in the team being booed off the field following defeat to South Africa, with Eddie Jones dismissed from his coaching duties shortly after.

Quickly Borthwick became the man pipped to take on top job at Twickenham Stadium and concluded his stint at Mattioli Woods Welford Road with a 23-16 win over ASM Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Champions Cup.

Penning a five year deal to be England’s head coach, Borthwick brough defence coach Kevin Sinfield with him, with player-coach Richard Wiggelsworth bringing a 20-year professional career to lead the side on an interim basis until the conclusion of the 2022/23 season.

Much like the RFU, Leicester had started making their arrangements for the succession of their head coach. The clubs CEO, Andrea Pinchen, is very much at the heart of that search and stated that the club are not anticipating losing any more of their coaches to England in the near future.

“For the remainder of the season, certainly, we are set with Richard Wigglesworth as interim, with Aled Walters stepping up and running the programme with him, and Matt Everard taking a step up as well,” Pinchen said.

“For us, really, it’s a timing piece rather than anything else because we were working on this way back in the summer. We knew it was a very high possibility that Steve would be asked to go to England, so we started doing a lot of work on it.”

Using analytics and compiling a list of potential candidates, Pinchen is already in the process of interviewing Borthwick’s long-term successor. Wigglesworth was one of that list too, the 39-year-old having been part of Borthwick’s coaching staff before the midseason upheaval.

Now heading into their Pool A return fixture against Clermont this weekend, the club have lost two consecutive fixtures on the trot and are contending with something of an injury crisis, where a number of key players are unbelievable.

On Tuesday afternoon, both of Pinchen and Wigglesworth expressed that it would be a surprise if a large contingent of Leicester players were not selected by Borthwick in his first England squad, meaning that player availability issues may perpetuate for the side.

Unwilling to offer a timeline on when a new head coach will be appointed, Pinchen believes that the coaching consistency will stand the side in good stead for the rest of the season.

“The certainty is that we are working on it and there will be an appointment,” Pinchen said. “The continuity piece is certainly for us, having Richard in situ and having Aled and the rest of the guys.

“So, I don’t want to put a timeframe on it because ultimately everybody gets excited and then everyone starts guessing who it is, there is a lot of pressure put outside, there is a lot of noise and [we] don’t need that for the players.”