- Middleton to take up role in the New Year
- Previous experience will stand Middleton in good stead, says Nicola Ponsford
Photo: Getty Images
Former Leeds Carnegie player and coach Simon Middleton has been named England Women’s Sevens Head Coach.
Middleton will take up his new position in the New Year in time for the second round of the IRB Sevens World Series in Atlanta (February 15-16).
The 47-year-old is charged with spearheading England’s World Sevens Series ambitions – England finished second in the 2012/13 season – and ensuring the team maintain their core team status in the World Series next season. Middleton will also work with the England XVs set-up as the team prepares for the Women's Rugby World Cup in France next year.
Middleton joins the RFU with an impressive coaching pedigree. He coached Leeds Carnegie from 2000-2011 working alongside the likes of Stuart Lancaster, Neil Back and John Callard. During his tenure he helped Leeds reach the Premiership in 2001 and 2006 as well as securing Heineken Cup qualification in the 2002-2003 season.
Middleton already has experience of the England Women’s set-up, most recently in the 2013 Nations Cup when he came in as an assistant coach, but also in the 2012 European Cup where England took the title and during the 2010 Rugby World Cup as Defence Advisor.
“I am very excited about this new role and working with the RFU,” said Middleton, who joins from Bishop Burton College, where he was Director of Rugby. “Personally I feel it's the appointment I've been preparing for since I started my coaching career. To coach your country has to be the ambition of any coach and the pinnacle of any coach’s career.
“When I look at the quality and talent within the current squad and the emerging talent, it's impossible not to get excited. I see my job as making sure all their skill and athletic potential is converted into success on the Sevens World Series.
“I have had the good fortune of working with Gary Street, his coaching team and the EPS since 2008 in a support capacity, so to now be able to work with the England management team and the players on a full time basis is something I'm really looking forward to.”
RFU Head of Performance (Women’s) Nicola Ponsford added: “Simon has a wealth of experience as a player, earning 55 appearances for Leeds, and within coaching. He has proven leadership and management skills. We also have worked with Simon previously and he has had a huge impact on players and staff alike.
“We are looking forward to Simon coming on board full-time in the New Year, both leading the sevens programme but also utilising his expertise from within the XVs game.”
The first round of the World Sevens Series kicks off on November 28 in Dubai, and for this tournament England will be coached by RFU Coach James Cooper and Susie Appleby.