It’s shaping up to be a summer of change in a number of Gallagher Premiership academies, with four clubs set to shake up their coaching staffs.
It was announced back in September that Bath Academy Manager Andy Rock would be stepping up to take on the role of Performance Director next season and the vacancy created by his promotion was finally advertised last week.
In that same week, Harlequins announced that long-serving Academy Director Tony Diprose would be moving on and Leicester Tigers began advertising for a new Academy Head Coach, with Jamie Taylor leaving the club after helping guide them to back-to-back Premiership U18 titles.
The latest name to join this growing list is Simon Sinclair, the Academy Manager at Northampton Saints, who the club announced today would be leaving at the end of the season.
“Simon’s contribution to Saints has been outstanding,” said Northampton CEO Mark Darbon.
“For the last 14 years he has been dedicated to helping develop and progress some of the players we see week in, week out at Franklin’s Gardens.
“He remains one of the most popular figures here at Saints and although we are always disappointed to see someone of his calibre go elsewhere, he leaves with our very best wishes.”
Sinclair has helped oversee the development of the likes of James Grayson, Ehren Painter and Fraser Dingwall since taking over the role from Dusty Hare in 2017, whilst also playing a role in the emergence of players such as Lewis Ludlam and Mike Haywood during his time as Elite Player Development Manager.
Sinclair, alongside current Academy Head Coach Mark Hopley, has helped Northampton punch above their weight in terms of producing young players, with the region hemmed in heavily by the recruiting grounds of Saracens, Leicester and Wasps.
Grayson, Dingwall and Painter have all featured prominently for Saints this season and are one of the reasons why fans are getting excited about the trajectory of the club with Chris Boyd at the helm, who is rewarding youth with a chance in the first XV. Ludlam has been another to take that opportunity with both hands and the back rower has been one of the most consistently impressive players in the Premiership so far this season.
Saints have also contributed strongly to the current group of England U20s, with Dingwall available when not on club duty and Samson Ma’asi, Alex Coles and Ollie Sleightholme all making their presences felt in the pathway side.
“Saints has been an enormous part of my life for the last 14 years and I will miss the club greatly,” said Sinclair.
“It has been a privilege to work at an organisation that has allowed me to develop as a coach and trusted me to help develop the next generation of players.
“Leading the Academy has been an incredibly rewarding job and it makes the whole staff very proud to see young players come through the system and put on a first team shirt.
“The Academy has a talented group of staff and I have no doubt they will continue to thrive – I would like to thank them all for their support but in particular Mark Hopley, Paul Shields and Katherine Burrows.
“These are exciting times for Saints and I wish Chris Boyd, the management team and all the staff the very best of luck for the years ahead.”
Sinclair, a former Framlingham College director of sport, is now set to return to the school arena, taking up a role with the Bedford Modern School once he has finished up with Northampton at the end of the season.
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