Former Leicester Tigers lock Louis Deacon will leave his coaching role at Coventry to take up a new position within the Rugby Football Union.
Deacon played 274 for Tigers and won six Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups across a 14-year playing career that also saw him earn 29 England caps.
He was forced to hang up his boots in February 2015 and embarked upon a coaching career that saw him work with Birmingham Moseley and England U20 before joining Coventry as forwards coach four seasons ago.
Having helped guide Cov to the National League One title in 2017/18 and re-establish the Butts Park Arena club as a Championship force, the 40-year-old now returns to the RFU where he will operate as the new forwards coach of the women’s national team.
Director of Rugby Rowland Winter paid tribute to Deacon, who leaves his position at Coventry with immediate effect.
“Deacs’ hard work in developing young players to improve and progress their game, as well as leading the coaching of our set piece and contact skills, has been an important part of the club’s success and improvement over the last four years,” Winter said.
“We are sorry to see him leave, but at the same time we are pleased for him as it is a prestigious opportunity with a national team.
“I have no doubt that Deacs will thrive in his new challenge, and it also highlights another example of how Coventry as a club and the Championship as a league are developing players, coaches and support staff to be ready for both the Premiership and international-level rugby.
“The timing is not ideal, obviously, with the new season just around the corner, but we will look to fill this important part of our coaching team with the right individual as soon as we can.”
Deacon, the older brother of Brett – who is a coach at their former club Leicester Tigers, praised Coventry for the role they played in his coaching career.
“It’s a shame that I’ve got to leave Coventry, but it’s an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” he said.
“When I first came to Coventry I’d only been coaching for a year with Moseley and England Under-20s. Then Rowland and I got in touch with each other and I’m thankful for the opportunity he gave me with the club.
“Having strong forward play is really important in the Championship and it is a great competition to learn your trade in from both a playing and coaching perspective, and I’ve learned a massive amount, especially in how to get the best out of players.
“I’d like to thank Jon [Sharp, Coventry chairman] and Rowland for giving me the opportunity to be a part of Coventry, and the fans have been the best in the Championship by far, and I’ll miss the match days at Butts Park for sure.
“Over the four years the players have been great lads to coach. That was what attracted me to Coventry in the first place, the ambition and the quality of players, and I hope that they continue to be successful and strive for the top.”
England Women head coach Simon Middleton said: “Louis has had a fantastic club and international career and is a consummate professional.
“He’s incredibly experienced in the aspects of the role that we need to focus on, including set piece but he also has a diversity in his coaching. His playing background and coaching background make him the perfect fit and we’re looking forward to working with him.
“I also want to thank Mark Luffman for his fantastic support and professionalism over the period he’s been with us as forwards coach. Mark has been integral to us winning the Six Nations, regaining and maintaining our position as number one in the world and remaining unbeaten over the period he’s been working with us.
“On behalf of all players and staff, I’d like thank him for all of his support and wish him all the best going forward.”
Coventry’s first pre-season game comes later this month when fellow Championship side Nottingham visit the Butts Park Arena, followed by a clash with Wasps on September 4.
Fellow Premiership side Gloucester also come to Coventry on September 11 before the 2021/22 Championship season kicks off with a home match against Doncaster Knights on September 18.