Premiership side Harlequins have named England defence coach Paul Gustard as their new head of rugby.
The 42-year-old will join the London club after England’s tour to South Africa next month and will replace John Kingston, who left by mutual consent.
Gustard has worked with Eddie Jones since 2016 and was under contract until 2019, but Quins agreed compensation with the Rugby Football Union.
“I just couldn’t turn this opportunity down,” Gustard said.
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He told the club website: “I am a proud Englishman and it has been a privilege to represent my country and work under Eddie. He has supported me in accepting this new role and I will continue to have a strong relationship with him.
“However, I am now ready to lead a team and I am thrilled to have this chance at one of the Premiership’s biggest clubs.”
Gustard ‘made big contribution’, says Jones
Over the past two and a half years former Saracens assistant Gustard helped England win back-to-back Six Nations titles, as well as series victories away from home against Australia and Argentina.
His departure leaves Jones without a permanent defence and attack coach just 15 months before the start of the World Cup.
The process for recruiting a new defence coach is under way.
Jones said: “I wish ‘Gussy’ all the best at Quins. He is a talented young English coach and a very good choice for the role.
“He has made a big contribution to the England coaching team as our defence coach and I’m happy that he has this opportunity to develop and prove himself in a head coach role.”
Quins finished 10th in the Premiership and have restructured their coaching team, with the previous director of rugby role split into a head of rugby and a general manager.
The club say they will make the latter appointment “in due course”.
“We were determined to recruit a coach with a proven track record in delivering a winning team and environment, and we have done that,” said chief executive David Ellis.
“The two leadership roles in the club’s new rugby operations structure is an important step towards our long-term ambition of taking Harlequins back to the very top of English and European rugby.”
The club’s last major trophy came in 2012 when they won the Premiership title.
Chris Jones, BBC Radio 5 live rugby union reporter
Gustard says his relationship with Jones remains strong, and that the opportunity at Harlequins was simply too good to turn down – but while this is a coup for Quins, it leaves England in a bit of a fix with the World Cup edging closer.
Jones is without a permanent attack and defence coach, although Gustard will travel to South Africa for the Test series in June.
Not for the first time in 2018, Jones is having to be reactive rather than proactive, with Wales assistant Shaun Edwards already touted as a possible replacement for Gustard – although prising him away from the WRU will not be easy.
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