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Paul Gustard has landed a surprise new job in Italy just 6 days after leaving Harlequins

By Liam Heagney

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Paul Gustard has secured himself a new job in Italy just six days after he left his director of rugby post at Harlequins with immediate effect. Benetton, the struggling Guinness PRO14 franchise, have revealed they have signed the Englishman on a three-year deal from next July as assistant head coach.  

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The Italian club, who are set to lose head coach Kieran Crowley at the end of this season after a five-year stint, have explained Gustard will coach their defence and support Marco Bortolami on strategic decisions relating to high performance.

“I’m thrilled and happy to join Benetton for the 2021/22 season,” said ex-Harlequins boss Gustard. “When my wife Laura and I decided in December that we wanted a new experience and new challenges, we were delighted to have so many opportunities available to us nationally and internationally. 

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We wanted to be part of a group where there was a clear vision, a deep level of trust and a dynamic environment driven towards high goals. When I first spoke to Marco and he explained his plans and vision in detail, I felt inspired by his passion and energy. 

“This link was deepened together with general manager Antonio Pavanello, who outlined a clear strategic and cultural purpose for the club and my specific roles within it. I already feel extremely involved and have a strong alignment with Antonio and the club management, so I know this is the right opportunity for us. 

“They have been nothing short of exceptional in the way they communicated with me and we are very excited to be joining the club. Benetton have a talented roster of players with an exciting team of coaches. I look forward to assisting and supporting this team in our collective development.

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“Only a few years have passed since the club played the PRO14 final series, an incredibly exciting, tough competition that with the entry of the best South African teams will only continue to grow. I want to test myself, improve and contribute to Benetton’s future success.

“I will strive to learn the language, embrace the culture and invest in them in the same way they did with me. I can’t wait to move to one of the most beautiful places in the world and meet the players, the staff and be part of a very special family.”

When Gustard exited Harlequins last week he was quickly linked with the Wales defence coach position under Wayne Pivac, along with a number of other positions elsewhere, but working in the soon-to-be PRO16 in Italy wasn’t mentioned.

Benetton sports director Pavanello, the former Italy second row, explained why they recruited him. “When we think of figures who can allow us to take that step forward in order to stabilise ourselves on a par with high-level clubs and above all capable of providing the right support to Marco, it is immediate to realise that there are not many options. 

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“Being able to sign Paul Gustard is a source of great satisfaction for us as well as being very encouraging for the future. We are talking about a very high level profile that, first as a player and later as a coach, has won numerous trophies by being part of some of the greatest rugby players in the world.

“Paul’s role will be to assist and support Marco and the whole environment with the main responsibility of taking care of our defense and raising the level of high performance within our club. We therefore look forward to welcoming him to Treviso with his family.”

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Paul Gustard has landed a surprise new job in Italy just 6 days after leaving Harlequins

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