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RFU statement: Replacement named as Seibold exit is confirmed

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Speculation last month that Anthony Seibold will quit as the England defence coach after just a year in that job has been confirmed as true by the RFU, who kicked off Tuesday morning by announcing the name of the coach who will replace the Australian at the end of this month’s four-game Autumn Nations Series.

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It was October 13 when 2021 England recruit Seibold was linked with a return to rugby league’s NRL, the code where he learned the coaching ropes, and he will now be replaced by another coach who served his apprenticeship in rugby’s 13-a-side sport.

A statement read: “England have appointed Brett Hodgson as defence coach to start after the Autumn Nation Series. Anthony Seibold will leave at the end of the series to join NRL side Manly Warringah Sea Eagles where he has been appointed head coach.

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“Hodgson has joined up with the wider staff at Pennyhill Par where England are preparing for this weekend’s game against Japan at Twickenham Stadium. He will shadow Seibold in the upcoming weeks.

“Hodgson enjoyed a distinguished playing career, making more than 200 appearances in the NRL in his native Australia before moving to England where he won the prestigious Man of Steel award with Huddersfield Giants in the Super League. He moved into coaching in 2013 with Hull and Widnes Vikings. He subsequently joined Wests Tigers before returning to England as the Hull head coach in 2020.”

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Eddie Jones said: “I have known Brett for a few years now. He first visited us in Bristol in 2018 and I have been to Hull on a few occasions. He was an outstanding league player and he is a talented, hard-working young coach who is developing. He will continue the good work that Anthony Seibold has done since he joined us.

“We are disappointed to lose Anthony but we are really pleased for him as a career move. It’s great to see assistant coaches move on to head coach roles. Anthony leaves with everyone at England Rugby’s thanks and we wish him all the best in his new role.”

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Hodgson added: “I’m really excited about the opportunity to join England, especially in a Rugby World Cup year. I’m really looking forward to working with the staff and this group of players. There is some real talent here and it’s something I feel I can make a contribution to in helping this team succeed.”

Seibold said: “It has been a tremendous experience working for one of the world’s best coaches in Eddie Jones and with the England Rugby team over the last 16 months. The mentorship that Eddie has given me is something I will take forward into my next role.

“The relationships I have developed with staff and players alike have created many fond memories with the series-winning tour to Australia a real coaching highlight. The players have been a wonderful group of men to work with and I will watch with great interest their growth over the next twelve months as they head towards success at the Rugby World Cup in France.”

Seibold was appointed by England after John Mitchell quit for Wasps in the summer of 2021 and the irony is that Mitchell is working for Japan, next Saturday’s England opponents at Twickenham six days after last weekend’s surprise loss to Argentina.

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Flankly 2 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

If rugby wants to remain interesting in the AI era then it will need to work on changing the rules. AI will reduce the tactical advantage of smart game plans, will neutralize primary attacking weapons, and will move rugby from a being a game of inches to a game of millimetres. It will be about sheer athleticism and technique,about avoiding mistakes, and about referees. Many fans will find that boring. The answer is to add creative degrees of freedom to the game. The 50-22 is an example. But we can have fun inventing others, like the right to add more players for X minutes per game, or the equivalent of the 2-point conversion in American football, the ability to call a 12-player scrum, etc. Not saying these are great ideas, but making the point that the more of these alternatives you allow, the less AI will be able to lock down high-probability strategies. This is not because AI does not have the compute power, but because it has more choices and has less data, or less-specific data. That will take time and debate, but big, positive and immediate impact could be in the area of ref/TMO assistance. The technology is easily good enough today to detect forward passes, not-straight lineouts, offside at breakdown/scrum/lineout, obstruction, early/late tackles, and a lot of other things. WR should be ultra aggressive in doing this, as it will really help in an area in which the game is really struggling. In the long run there needs to be substantial creativity applied to the rules. Without that AI (along with all of the pro innovations) will turn rugby into a bash fest.

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