RFU appoint Borthwick but Bristol won’t release him

Steve Borthwick is now free to join England's coaching line up

The Rugby Football Union have announced that Steve Borthwick has agreed to join Eddie Jones’ coaching staff ahead of the 2016 Six Nations but his club Bristol have denied the move.

A statement from the Rugby Football Union said that Borthwick would be reunited with Jones having worked together for three years on Japan’s 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign as well as at Saracens, where the Australian signed him as a player from Bath.

However Borthwick’s Bristol club have since issued a statement saying that the RFU have approached Steve Borthwick about a coaching position with the England but they have not released him.

In a strongly worded statement Bristol said that they, “want to make it clear that we have not agreed that Steve Borthwick can leave our employment. Steve Borthwick is subject to a recently signed long term employment contract.”

Bristol Rugby also stated that they, “did not give the RFU permission to speak with Steve Borthwick” and that they “will take all reasonable actions as necessary to protect the Club’s position and therefore will not be making any further statement at this stage.”

Yesterday the RFU announced that Stuart Lancaster’s assistants, Mike Catt, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree would all be leaving their positions.

Saracens have also confirmed that Paul Gustard has been approached by the RFU while Northampton Saints backs coach Alex King has also been linked to a position in Jones’s management.

Borthwick had an impressive playing career as a lock for both club and country which saw him play for England on 57 occasions between 2001 and 2010.

He captained the side under Martin Johnson from 2008 and was a member of the England squad which reached the World Cup Final against South Africa in 2007. His playing career spanned 16 years which included captaining Bath and Saracens before retiring at the end of the 2013/14 season with a record 265 Premiership appearances.

Borthwick began his transition into coaching while still playing for Saracens and took up the Japan forwards coach position in 2012.

In an awkward statement given that Borthwick has not been released by his club England head coach Eddie Jones said in the RFU statement, “I am delighted that Steve has joined my coaching setup. I have known him for a long time through Saracens and Japan and he has done fantastic work as a coach. Steve has a huge amount of international experience as a player and a captain and his coaching in Japan in recent years shows he can get the best out of the players at the highest level. He is a great addition and I look forward to working with him again as we look ahead to the start of the Six Nations next year.”

Steve Borthwick said,”This is a really exciting opportunity to join the England setup and to link up with Eddie again. This is a huge honour to be asked as these chances don’t come around often. We have an exciting group of players in England and I am really looking forward to the challenge and getting England beating the best teams in the world.”

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