Mallinder leaves England for 'pivotal' Scotland role

By Sports Desk August 23, 2019

Jim Mallinder has left his England role for an opportunity with Scotland that he said was too good to turn down.

Mallinder joined the Rugby Football Union (RFU) as the performance pathway coach in June 2018 and was tipped as a potential replacement for Eddie Jones when the England coach's contract expires in 2021.

However, on Friday he was named as Scottish Rugby's new performance director after Scott Johnson left for Australia in April.

Mallinder led Northampton Saints to the final of the European Champions Cup in 2011 and to Premiership glory three years later.

The former Sale Sharks and England Saxons coach also oversaw an England XV in a 51-43 success against the Barbarians at Twickenham in June.

"I'm sad to be leaving the RFU as I've really enjoyed my time here, in particular getting to work with some fantastic people in a wide range of roles within the men's pathway. I will miss working with them all but this was an opportunity that I couldn't refuse," said Mallinder.

"It's a chance to lead a long-term programme, work with talented people, and I'm looking forward to moving up to Scotland and getting started."

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said: "I am delighted to have secured Jim in what is a pivotal and vital role within our high-performance structure.

"He has a proven track record of developing players across a range of different career stages and I want him to strengthen and deepen the pathway our players will take into the professional game and develop the skills and behaviours they will need to succeed at their respective highest levels."

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    A blistering first-half display was enough to topple Scotland 27-3, arguably Ireland's toughest rivals in Pool A, though hosts Japan will be no pushovers.

    Heading into the tournament as the world's number one side seemed somewhat undeserved based on Ireland's performances, with Schmidt's side having failed to impress in a poor Six Nations campaign, while they were hammered by England - among the favourites to challenge holders New Zealand - in a warm-up match last month.

    Successive victories over Six Nations champions Wales showed the talent was still there, even if this World Cup may have come a year too late for the men in green.

    But with Schmidt determined to end his tenure on a high and the quality in his squad evident, Ireland - inspired by brilliant performances from stalwarts Johnny Sexton and Rory Best - made their case in emphatic fashion in a rainswept Yokohama.


    Sexton's injury at World Cup 2015 ultimately proved a decisive blow, with the fly-half missing the quarter-final defeat to Argentina in Cardiff.

    He has struggled with injuries throughout 2019, having been taken off with a head injury in Ireland's Six Nations clash with Scotland in January before missing much of the World Cup preparation due to a thumb injury.

    Assistant coach Matt Taylor promised the press Scotland would "smash" the World Rugby Player of the year, but Sexton showed no signs that warning had got to him, putting in a superb display, organising Ireland's defence and entrusting the forwards to do the rest.

    The 34-year-old did, however, sustain a thigh injury, with Conor Murray taking over kicking duties and - should Ireland manage to beat Japan - Schmidt may be tempted to wrap his star man, who was subbed off before the hour, in cotton wool for the rest of the pool stage.


    Rory Best's captaincy has come under scrutiny in the build-up to the World Cup, though the 37-year-old - who will retire after the tournament - proved that there is still plenty of life in this old dog.

    His 12th-minute try, a typically powerful drive following a lineout, cast aside any doubts over Ireland's approach and the skipper, aided by Sexton, led by example throughout at the International Stadium.

    He became the fourth Irish captain to score in a World Cup match, while Best is also the fourth oldest player, behind Diego Ormaechea, Fakahau Valu and Nick Easter, to go over in the history in the tournament.


    "Their enthusiasm is something that's contagious, their ability to get themselves into the game," Schmidt said of Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale, who were selected to make their World Cup debuts.

    Without experienced duo Keith Earls and Rob Kearney, who were not risked as they recover from injuries, Schmidt had no doubt over the ability of his new-look back-line and his confidence was not misplaced.

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    Instead, Conway challenged for a high kick from the excellent Conor Murray and ultimately profited, with the wing found free on the right to dance inside one challenge and score.

    Jack Carty, on for Johnny Sexton, added further gloss to the scoreline with a penalty, as even a yellow card for Tadhg Beirne - for failing to release - did not allow Scotland to belatedly reply.

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    Ireland face a potential banana skin against hosts Japan next Saturday, while Scotland have to wait an extra two days to face Samoa in their second pool match.

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    There was another enjoyable moment for Namibia approaching the hour mark after J.C. Greyling charged into the far corner and Chad Plato also had the crowd on their feet at the death, after Italy pair Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi had crossed over.


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    The Azzurri have never progressed beyond the group stage of a World Cup, but Italy impressed at times in mixed conditions. If not for some sloppy hands, the margin of victory could have been greater. It was, however, the second most points Italy have scored, behind the 53 managed against Russia in 2011.

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