The RFU have announced a new three-man coaching team for the U20s for the 2018/19 season, with Mark Hopley, James Scaysbrook and Richard Whiffin joining the set-up.


The trio will come on board as part of the coach development programme agreed between the RFU and Premiership Rugby in 2016. Previous graduates of the program include Louis Deacon, Tom Williams and Ian Vass in the first year of the program, as well as Anthony Allen, Richard Blaze and James Ponton last season.

The coaching staff will be assisted by pathway performance coaches Steve Bates and Jim Mallinder, whilst they will also continue their current club duties for the duration of their tenure with England.

Hopley, who was appointed academy head coach at Northampton Saints earlier this year after working as defence coach with the seniors, Scaysbrook, the forwards and defence coach at Toyota Shuttles in Japan, and Whiffin, the head of academy at Gloucester and former backs coach at London Irish, make up the most experienced group England have had yet under the new coaching development agreement.

All three are held in high regard in coaching circles, with Hopley’s hire as Northampton’s academy head coach considered a coup given his work in previous years, whilst Whiffin masterminded Gloucester’s run to the final of the U18 Premiership last season, putting up plenty of points and shredding opposition defences in the process.

Mark Hopley, (R) the Northampton Saints academy head coach talks to forwards coach Phil Dowson during the Northampton Saints training session. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The trio will have a good pool of players to work with this year, which includes the likes of Marcus Smith, Marcus Street and Joel Kpoku, all of whom return for another year of eligibility if not required by the senior side, as well as fresh faces like Ollie Lawrence, Alex Coles and Will Capon, who are set to make the step up in their first season as professionals.


Hopley, Scaysbrook and Whiffin will lead the group in the U20 Six Nations next year, before taking the team to the World Rugby U20 Championship, which will be hosted by Argentina next summer.

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