MARK MAPLETOFT has been appointed as a National Academy Coach for the Rugby Football Union.
The 34-year-old joins on January 1 2007 from Saracens, where he has been Assistant Academy Manager for 18 months, and will have special responsibility for fly-halves and centres, as well as assisting Jon Callard with kicking coaching.
Former England fly-half Mapletoft said: "This is a fantastic opportunity especially to work in such a specialist area. There are a lot of excellent players in the Academy system - the likes of Danny Cipriani, Toby Flood, Ryan Lamb, as well as some younger players who'll come through in the next two or three years.
"For young fly-halves now there is so much to learn and I am looking forward to working with them and sharing my experiences with them.
"It's been a fantastic 18 months at Saracens and I have a great working relationship with Mike Hynard (Academy Manager) but this is a great chance to develop my coaching career."
Mapletoft will assist Nigel Redman with the Intermediate National Academy (18 to 20 age group), including this season's Under-19s and Under-20s representative programme.
Kevin Bowring, RFU Head of Elite Coach Development, said: "Mark has great potential as a coach and has already shown at Saracens that he has the ability to develop young players. He has excellent technical knowledge in those specialist areas and he has the ability to build rapport, identify and communicate with the players to maximise their potential."
Chris Wilkins, the RFU's Rugby Development Officer for Kent, will take over Mapletoft's role at Saracens on secondment for the remainder of the season, with a permanent full-time appointment made for next season.
RFU National Academy Director Conor O'Shea said: "As our academy coaches develop and challenge themselves in different coaching environments, it is important that we work with the clubs to ensure that the delivery to the academy players is sustained with quality staff. Chris's role in Kent and his existing relationship with the Saracens Academy is a positive move and demonstrates the partnerships we have at Community Rugby and Elite Rugby level with the Constituent Bodies and Guinness Premiership clubs."
Bowring added: "The RFU is working hard with the regional academies to develop coaches and Mark's move into the National Academy along with the promotion of Stuart Lancaster (Leeds Tykes) and John Fletcher (Newcastle Falcons), both former Academy Managers, shows that together we are creating a sound development pathway for coaches and former players."
Born 25.12.1971, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
Mark Mapletoft attended Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby and Loughborough University (BSc in Sports Science). He spent the best part of a decade at Gloucester before spells at Saracens, NEC Harlequins and London Irish. He returned to Vicarage Road as Saracens Assistant Academy Manager in May 2005 following his retirement from playing. He won one cap for England, against Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1997.
Note to desks
There are seven RFU National Academy coaches - Jim Mallinder, Nigel Redman, Dorian West, Jon Callard, Simon Hardy, Phil Keith-Roach and Mark Mapletoft - who work across the three levels of the National Academy structure, which is fed by the 14 RFU Regional Academies:
The Junior National Academy identifies and develop talented England qualified players aged 18 and below, who will form the basis of the England Under-18s team
The Intermediate National Academy develops the best talent aged 18-20 and will feed the England Under-20s team. It will also supply players for the England Under-19 squad for the IRB U19 World Championships in Belfast in 2007 (April 4-21)
The Senior National Academy develops players on the fringes of the England senior team and are likely to be selected for the England Saxons side