Smith appointed England attack coach

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The Independent Online

London Irish Director of Rugby Brian Smith has joined the senior England coaching team as Attack Coach.

With echoes of the appointment of Martin Johnson, it has been a long, drawn out process as the RFU pursued their man and entered into protracted negotiations with the Exiles over a settlement.

Smith, who has been at Irish for three years, joins a coaching team led by Martin Johnson that includes senior coaches Mike Ford (Defence) and John Wells (Forwards), though given England’s toothless displays since lifting the World Cup in 2003, Smith now has arguably the toughest remit of all Johnson’s lieutenants.

Smith said: “The opportunity to coach at international level comes along rarely in one’s career so I’m looking forward to my new position with England, it’s an exciting time to be involved.”

“I would like to thank London Irish for the opportunity the club has given me,”

“I’ve enjoyed working with the playing and coaching staff and would like to thank all at the club, especially its exceptional supporters, for all the encouragement I’ve received.”

Johnson said: “The appointment of Brian is great news for the England set up as we look forward to the increased time we have with the players under the new agreement with Premier Rugby Limited. Brian is a top attack coach and I’m sure he will be a real asset to us.  His appointment finalises the senior coaching team for next season.”

It is thought Irish will promote forwards coach Toby Booth to the senior role after Smith’s departure, with Mike Catt becoming Booth’s right hand man, as well as continuing in a playing capacity for the club next season. John Conlan, Director of London Irish and immediate past Chairman of the club, said: “We’re pleased that the negotiations with the RFU for the release of Brian Smith from his contract have been conducted in a good natured way and concluded to the satisfaction of both parties. We wish him well for his new role with England.

“On behalf of all at London Irish I would like to thank Brian for his contribution to the club over the past three seasons. It has been an era of significant progress that we are determined to build on.”

BRIAN SMITH BIOGRAPHY

Brian Smith joined London Irish at the beginning of the 2005-06 season as Director of Rugby and took the club to third place in the Guinness Premiership and the final of the European Challenge Cup.  Last season London Irish played in a memorable Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulouse, taking the current French champions to the wire.  He has won three Guinness Premiership Coach of the Month Awards in three seasons, recognition for the club’s attacking style of rugby.

Before joining London Irish Brian was the Defence Coach at Bath Rugby contributing to the club reaching the final of the European Challenge Cup in 2002/3 and the Guinness Premiership final in 2003-04.  During his time at Bath the club set a Guinness Premiership defence record of conceding the fewest points in a season, the record still stands.

Although Australian born, Smith is a dual rugby international (Australia and Ireland) and an Oxford Blue.  He debuted for the Wallabies on their successful 1986 Bledisloe Cup Tour and played in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987. In the 1988 Bicentennial Test match versus a World XV he set an Australian point scoring record of 26 points.

Brian’s coaching career began in Australia with Sydney-based Eastern Suburbs.  They enjoyed an undefeated season in 2000 which led to a role coaching with the ACT Brumbies who reached the Super 12 final in 2001.

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