England Women’s forwards and defence coach Richard Blaze is to join Gallagher Premiership side Wasps.
The former Leicester lock and coach will take up the role of forwards coach as part of a new-look coaching set-up, alongside head coach Lee Blackett and head of performance Pete Atkinson at the Ricoh Arena next season.
Blaze joined England Rugby as part of the coach development agreement with Premiership Rugby in November 2017, working as England men U20s forwards coach.
In September 2018, he was appointed forwards and defence coach of the England Women’s team, working alongside head coach Simon Middleton and backs coach Scott Bemand.
During his spell, the Red Roses won the 2019 Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam and secured 17 wins out of 18 matches.
Blaze said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with England Rugby, both in the men’s pathway and with the women’s team.
“Working in international rugby is a real privilege.
“A player’s time in the pathway where you have the opportunity to see individuals grow is special.
“The women’s game is developing and growing all the time. We’ve played in front of some fantastic crowds, had some brilliant performances and memories.
“I’ll be watching and wishing the team every success going forward leading into the World Cup in 2021.
“I leave with fond memories and having worked with great people.
“Joining Wasps is a fantastic opportunity for myself and my family.
“It’s a historic club with exciting plans and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
England Women head coach Middleton said: “Over the last 18 months, it’s fair to say the Red Roses have enjoyed significant success and Richard has obviously played a big part in that.
“He joined us at a time when the squad, in particular the forward pack, was in transition and has done a great job in ensuring the transition was not only smooth but also allowed us to maintain a high level of success.
“Richard is a terrific all-round coach and has contributed to all aspects of the team’s development. Along with the pack specifically, he has developed our defensive structure and effectiveness.
“He’s a great thinker in terms of what he delivers and how he delivers it. He’s developed forwards who are diverse in their skill and ability to switch positions.
“Our last two forwards coaches, Matt Ferguson, who is now enjoying huge success at Northampton, and now Richard, have gone on to join men’s Premiership clubs which demonstrates the quality of the women’s programme in developing staff and players.
“We’re obviously disappointed to lose a coach of his quality but the time was right for Richard personally and we all wish him well.
“Although it’s never ideal to lose a coach, these timescales allow us to recruit and embed an appropriate replacement as we move towards the World Cup in 2021.”
A replacement for Blaze in the England Women’s coaching team will be announced in due course.
Courtesy of the RFU