Paul Gustard has signed a three-year deal to act as defence coach at Italian club Benetton Rugby; the 44-year-old performed the same role for England under Eddie Jones before leaving for Harlequins in 2018
Last Updated: 26/01/21 1:04pm
Paul Gustard has moved quickly to secure a new position following his departure from Harlequins by being appointed Benetton Rugby’s defence coach.
Gustard’s time as head of rugby at The Stoop ended last week after a disappointing start to the Gallagher Premiership but he has signed a three-year deal to act as assistant to Marco Bortolami at the Italian club, beginning in July.
The former England defence coach left Eddie Jones’ staff to take up his role as number one at Quins in 2018, but was unable to bring consistency to a club that has historically suffered from rollercoaster form.
“I am thrilled and happy to join Benetton. 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,” Gustard said.
“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.
“I already feel extremely involved and have a strong alignment with 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.”
Worcester Warriors have signed former England winger Chris Ashton from fellow Premiership club Harlequins.
Ashton was contracted with Quins until the summer but has left early to move to Sixways on a deal until the end of the 2021-22 season.
The 33-year-old is third on the Premiership’s all-time list of try-scorers with 88, two behind Mark Cueto and just four short of equalling Tom Varndell’s record.
“I would like to thank Harlequins for agreeing to release me early from my contract to be able to join Worcester Warriors,” Ashton said.
“The ability to continue my career in the Gallagher Premiership and play regular rugby means that this move is right for me and my family at this time.”
Ashton will increase options in the back three at Worcester, who are without full-back Melani Nanai for the rest of the season while wing Noah Heward is also sidelined with a hamstring injury.
“We are pleased to welcome Chris to Sixways. He is a quality, proven international, who is equally at home at wing or full-back,” said Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons.
“Chris is the consummate professional and will be a good role model for our younger players. I have no doubt that Chris will make his mark here at Sixways.”
Ashton, who started his career in rugby league with Wigan Warriors, has played for Northampton, Saracens, Sale and Quins in the Premiership, while he scored 24 tries in 23 appearances at Top 14 club Toulon in the 2017-18 season.
He scored 20 tries in 44 Test appearances for England between 2010 and 2019, finishing joint leading try-scorer in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Worcester sit 11th in the Premiership and Ashton could make his debut against champions Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
“Chris is going to be of huge benefit in improving our young players. Not just the back three players, but all the players in the squad,” said Warriors head coach Jonathan Thomas.