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From Bod’s hat-trick to Sexton’s drop-goal, no opponent has defined this Irish rugby century quite like France

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England assistant Cockerill linked with French club move - report

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick’s revamp of the England coaching team he inherited from Eddie Jones could be completed by the potential departure of forwards coach Richard Cockerill to the Top 14. The ex-Leicester boss held the fort for the RFU during the few December weeks in between the dismissal of Jones and the appointment of Borthwick, who has since quickly changed up the Twickenham backroom.

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Matt Proudfoot, Martin Gleeson and Anthony Seibold have all departed since the Autumn Nations Series ended in defeat to the Springboks and even Brett Hodgson, the defence coach that Jones had arranged in November to take over from the NRL-bound Seibold, has not been kept on.

Now comes speculation about the future of Cockerill, the forwards coach that Jones brought in to work with England at the start of the 2021/22. The former hooker spent a couple of years playing for Clermont in the early noughties and having gone on to have a short stint coaching at Toulon before joining Edinburgh in 2017, he has now been linked to a more permanent Top 14 return.

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French sports daily L’Equipe have reported: “Richard Cockerill, current assistant coach of the England team, is Montpellier’s priority for the position of forwards manager next season. Discussions have progressed well in recent days.

“The English technician, who passed through Leicester, Toulon and Edinburgh, was part of a shortlist to take the position of Montpellier forwards coach next season under the coaching of Philippe Saint-Andre. He has the advantage of speaking French and having already worked in the Top 14 at Toulon, first in January 2017 to support his compatriot Mike Ford before taking the reins a few months later.”

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The newspaper added: “This week, discussions have progressed well and a proposal has been sent to Cockerill. According to our information, the former international hooker is now the favourite. Other profiles had been studied recently, including that of Bordeaux’s Julien Lairle. Another name has also appeared in recent days, that of Jono Gibbes who was let go by Clermont. But the most advanced and identified track leads to Cockerill.”

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If Cockerill was to agree on a move to Montpellier, the big question from an England perspective is whether that switch would take place before or after the upcoming Rugby World Cup. L’Equipe believe that Montpellier would like Cockerill to arrive in the summer, meaning he would have to give up the World Cup.

The Montpellier pack next season will have a strong English influence as Luke Cowan-Dickie and Sam Simmonds are already confirmed signings from Exeter with Harry Williams, another Chiefs stalwart, now also said to be on the cusp of joining.

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