Six Nations 2015: Gary Street exits as England Women head coach

RFU in search of successor as Street departs 13 days before tournament begins, Nicky Ponsford to take charge during interim

By Gareth Llewellyn

Gary Street has left his role as England Women’s head coach just a week before the start of the Six Nations.

The 46-year-old coach, who guided England to Women’s Rugby World Cup success last summer, is now looking for “a new challenge” after parting company with the Rugby Football Union by mutual consent.

I am extremely proud of the part that I played in growing the women’s game to where it is now.

Gary Street

The decision comes after the RFU conducted a review of the World Cup campaign with a number of changes recommended as England seek to defend their title in 2017, with the tournament being held a year earlier to realign with other major tournaments.

Despite their Rugby World Cup success in August, aided by New Zealand’s failure to get reach the knock-out stages, England last won the Six Nations in 2012, which was the last of their seven successive titles, six of which were Grand Slam wins.

“I have been part of an incredible journey for the last 14 years, and I am extremely proud of the part that I played in growing the women’s game to where it is now,” Street said.

“The pinnacle has to be winning the Rugby World Cup in France last year.

“However, huge credit must go to all the people involved in making that happen, not just the players but the backroom staff too and the many players and staff before that.

“It is a moment I will cherish forever.

“I now feel that I have achieved everything that I set out to do, and this is the right time to explore new challenges in my career.”

Street, who has also coached the England Students, U18, Academy and Sevens sides, has been involved in the women’s game since 2000 and was appointed England Women head coach in 2007 after a brief spell as assistant coach.

After losing the Rugby World Cup final to New Zealand in 2010, Street guided England to their first success at the competition in 20 years as they defeated Canada.

We all felt the time was right to make some changes within the women’s programme as we look to rebuild the team ahead of the next World Cup in 2017.

Nicky Ponsford

Off the back of England’s latest success, they picked up a number of awards with Street also receiving plenty of attention, including two coach of the year trophies at the UK Coaching Awards, where we was voted high performance of the year, and Pride of Britain’s Coach of the Year.

The team also won the Team of the Year gong at the BBC’s Sports Personality awards and were well received by sports journalists, landing awards from the Sports Journalists’ Association, The Sunday Times and Sky Sports.

While Street has departed before the upcoming tournament, his assistant Graham Smith will leave at its conclusion with the RFU’s head of performance (women), Nicky Ponsford, assuming the role of interim head coach until a successor is found.

“We would like to thank both Gary and Graham for their outstanding contributions to women’s rugby, which has seen significant and unparalleled success in that time,” Ponsford said.

“Gary’s involvement extends to 15 years, with Graham not far behind, and the effort and enthusiasm they have put into their roles has been fantastic in supporting and developing the players as well as the women’s programme.

“Many of those players who won in Paris last year have been developed and coached by Gary and Graham throughout their entire playing careers.

“However, we all felt the time was right to make some changes within the women’s programme as we look to rebuild the team ahead of the next World Cup in 2017.”

England begin their Six Nations campaign against Wales on Sunday 8 February at St Helen’s in Swansea.

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