Character Art Exchange

Paul Gustard has revealed he turned

Paul Gustard has revealed he turned

Down a new England contract to become Harlequins’ head of rugby just 16 months before the Tyler Clippard Womens Jersey World Cup – but has denied he was unhappy on Eddie Jones’s coaching staff.Gustard, England’s defence coach, also said he will go on next month’s tour of South Africa out of a sense of obligation and that he will be juggling both jobs during Isaiah Pead Womens Jersey the three-Test series but does not believe he is jumping ship, having initially signed up until after next year’s World Cup.

Confirmation of his appointment by Harlequins was swiftly followed by a Rugby Football Union statement claiming it was “good for the English game”. But Gustard’s revelation that he was in negotiations with the RFU over extending his existing deal demonstrates how much of a loss he is to England so close to the World Cup.

During the Six Nations he described his role as one of Jones’s assistants on matchdays as like having the “sword of Damocles hanging over my head” and said that “the tension never goes”. And, while he was one of the Australian’s first appointments in December 2015, his departure adds to the sizeable number of Jones’s backroom staff to leave earlier than anticipated.

“There are no ghosts here. Nothing about England was wrong,” said Gustard. “I was currently negotiating a new contract with England. It wasn’t about my happiness there. In regards to [the notion I am] walking away from something because something wasn’t right, that’s nonsense. I’ve had a great time for two and a half years, I’ve got some incredible memories with England and I’m really thankful to Eddie and the union.”

Gustard officially begins on 1 July but during his official unveiling at the Stoop on Monday he conducted meetings with some of his new colleagues. England fly out to South Africa at the start of June and John Kingston’s ill-fated decision to stay at Harlequins for the final month of the season after his exit had already been confirmed is an obvious example of the difficulties Gustard will face.

“I’ve not walked away from this job from ill feeling or lack of happiness, so for me to go and represent my country for another month is a great honour,” he added. “As it all happened in the last two weeks, I’d be some kind of bloke if I wasn’t going to support the team and do the best by the team over the next month.“I’m fully committed to making sure we win 3-0 [against South Africa] and I’m preparing the team the best I can, contributing to the development of players as we move forward towards winning the World Cup. On the flip-side, in my downtime over there, I’ll have to prepare for Harlequins’ pre-season. It’s going to be an exciting month and I’m looking forward to it. There’s nothing wrong with hard work – I enjoy it.”

The RFU has said the process to recruit a new defence coach is already under way and Jones’s fellow Australian Brad Davis has been linked with the job. Jones last week claimed Gustard’s link with Quins was just “rumours” but the departing 42-year-old said he goes with the head coach’s blessing.“[Eddie] was fine,” added Gustard. “I know sometimes people talk about Eddie in a different way. But for me he has always been good. I’d hate to think I was a person who was bitter or jealous or Dominik Hasek Womens Jersey would not wish well. I’m an Englishman, I’ve committed two and a half years of my life to us achieving winning the World Cup. I’ve given my very best in that time, I’ll continue to give my very best over the next month and I’ll be as delighted as anybody when we win the World Cup.”

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