'Harlequins want England's Gustard as head coach'

Harlequins have approached the Rugby Football Union about the release of England defence coach Paul Gustard.

It is believed the former Leicester, London Irish and Saracens player is Quins’ preferred choice to become their new head coach.

Gustard, who has worked with England boss Eddie Jones since the start of 2016, is contracted to the RFU until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The RFU refused to comment when contacted by the BBC.

If Quins are able to agree compensation terms, it will represent a significant coup for the club, with Gustard one of the most highly-rated coaches in the English game.

However, it will leave England without a permanent defence and attack coach with the World Cup only 15 months away.

Gustard has been one of Jones’ most trusted lieutenants over the past two-and-a-half years, helping the side to back-to-back Six Nations titles, as well as series victories away from home against Australia and Argentina.

But, despite Harlequins’ lamentable 10th-placed Premiership finish this season, the lure of a top domestic job seems to have proved decisive for the former Saracens assistant.

Quins are expected to make an official announcement in the coming days, with Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards and the former England and Fiji sevens boss Ben Ryan also interviewed for roles at The Stoop.

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