04 January 2005
Warwickshire's Jim Robinson has been named the new manager of England Counties.
The former Coventry prop starts a two-year term in February and will lead the second tier national side on tour to South America next summer.
Robinson, 53, is a former England Under-19 manager and England Colts coach who has twice taken Warwickshire to the final of the County Championship.
He succeeds Rob Udwin, who steps down after the game against France Amateurs at Newbury on Saturday, February 12 (6pm).
Danny Hodgson, from Northumberland, has been reappointed as assistant manager and Peter Hartley confirmed as head of selectors. The coaching team, appointed last year, consists of Mark Nelson (Lancashire) assisted by Paul Westgate (Somerset).
"I'm delighted to have been appointed manager of England Counties," said Robinson.
"It's our job to build on the excellent work of the last three years and create an environment where success is inevitable and the players have the chance to showcase their skills at the highest possible level.
"I'm looking forward to visiting Argentina and Uruguay, which are fantastic places to play rugby. When you win there, you know you've earned it."
Keith Plain, the Chairman of the RFU Appointment Panel, believes Robinson will continue the development of the side during his term of office and build on the excellent work carried out by Udwin.
"Jim Robinson was the outstanding candidate with experience of managing and coaching England at Under-19 and Colts level," said Plain.
"He will be ably assisted by Danny Hodgson and together they will make an excellent management team."
The England Counties side was created in 2002, selecting from the County Championship and County Under-20 Championship teams to give players from outside the Premiership the chance to play for their country at the highest possible level.
They toured Chile in 2002, winning all three games and beating the national side in Santiago, and followed up in 2003 by playing three games in Romania in France.
In December 2003 they played their first home game, against France Amateurs at Henley, and won both tour matches in Canada in 2004.
Next summer they face two provincial teams in Argentina before taking on Uruguay, listed at number 15 in the IRB World Rankings, on June 18.
For more information about England Counties visit www.rfu.com/englandcounties.htm