Long-serving Saracens strength and conditioning coach Andy Edwards is leaving the club after 15 years to take up a new role with the Springboks. Edwards has agreed a deal with SA Rugby to become the new Head of Athletic Performance for the Springboks.

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Edwards initially joined Saracens as a player, and went to become academy strength and conditioning coach in 2006. Along with academy manager Mike Hynard, Edwards helped in the development of the group of players who became known as the ‘Class of 2008’.

Edwards worked his way up to the role of senior strength and conditioning coach in 2009 and has held the position of head of strength and conditioning since 2014.

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Jackson Wray, Will Fraser, Owen Farrell, Jamie George and George Kruis all worked closely with Edwards, who in his tenure has seen Sarries lift five Premiership and three European titles.

“Andy has been a hugely popular and important figure in our group for a long time,” said Saracens director of rugby, Mark McCall.

“Whilst we will be sad to see him leave the club, we are also thrilled for him to get such an exciting opportunity on the international stage.

“It speaks volumes for how highly our outstanding Performance Team is regarded and we know that Andy will do a great job.

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“I would like to thank Andy for his friendship and for the wonderful contribution he has made to our club and wish him and Lorena all the best as they set out on a new journey.”

“I can’t speak highly enough of Andy and the impact he has had at Saracens,” added Sarries and England hooker Jamie George. “Our group [class of 2008] has grown up together and it’s been amazing to see him develop into one of, if not the best, S&C coaches around.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who is as good at their job. He’s incredibly committed, knowledgeable but more importantly understanding.

“I consider him one of my closest mates and I’m gutted for him to be leaving but it’s an amazing opportunity with South Africa and one he massively deserves.”

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England and British & Irish Lion international Maro Itoje said: “Andy has been a great coach and friend to me over the last seven years whilst he has been my person coach.

“His knowledge of what needs to be done is second to none.

 

“He’s a great Saracen, he’s been here since he was very young, he knows the club inside and out and we’re very sorry to see him leave. It’s a tremendous opportunity for him and his family to go to South Africa and I wish him all the best and he will always be missed at Saracens.”

Edwards will take up his new role with the Springboks on 1 August, and will travel to Cape Town as soon as possible considering the resumption of international travel to South Africa.

His appointment follows the departure of Aled Walters, who recently returned to the United Kingdom after a successful two-year stint with the South African national team.

Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby, said Edwards will be a good fit for the Springboks in the specialist role.

“Andy will bring with him a wealth of international knowledge from his time of working with a range of top-class coaches and players at Saracens, achieving success in England and in Europe,” said Erasmus.

“He comes highly recommended for what is an important role where you need someone with a proven record and international experience. During his time with Saracens he also worked with many South Africans playing for the club, which will help him to settle into the role.”

Edwards described his new role as an incredible opportunity to work with the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok squad.

“From my discussions with both Rassie and Jacques Nienaber I know that they place a huge emphasis on creating a family environment for the Springboks, and that is something that means a lot to me personally,” said Edwards.

“My family and I will be moving to Cape Town and are really looking forward to meeting everyone involved with the Springboks and experience the incredible, diverse South African culture.

“From a personal point of view, I am very excited about working with a new group of coaches and players. There is a massive challenge ahead over the next few years and I’m looking forward to the journey with the team.

“I want to thank Saracens from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to be part of such a special group of people for so many years. I have had the privilege of working with some of the best players and coaches in the world and am proud to have played a small part in the clubs success.

“I am leaving with wonderful memories on and off the field along with lifelong friends. Me and my partner Lorena will forever cherish our time here.”

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