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English Rugby
Wayne Smith turns down RFU role
ESPNscrum Staff
May 1, 2012
All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith drinks from the Rugby World Cup, France v New Zealand, Rugby World Cup Final, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 23, 2011
Wayne Smith will remain in New Zealand © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Mike Catt | Stuart Lancaster | Wayne Smith
Tournaments/Tours: England tour | Aviva Premiership
Teams: England

England boss Stuart Lancaster has announced that Wayne Smith has turned down the chance to be a part of his coaching set-up and will stay in New Zealand.

The news will come as a massive blow to Lancaster who has now missed out on his top two choices for the backs coach position - Andy Farrell and Smith. In their place, Mike Catt will take up the role on an interim basis for the summer tour of South Africa.

Catt will start his role with England on May 7 with the contract lasting until June 30 but the news of Smith's decision makes Catt the favourite to land the post on a full-time basis. Smith has revealed that he will stay in New Zealand due to family reasons and the World Cup-winning coach has claimed that it was a difficult decision while praising the work Lancaster has done.

"I was very impressed with Stuart [Lancaster] when I met him," Smith said. "He is an outstanding individual and will be a great plus for England Rugby and anyone who works in his team will be very fortunate. England have some fantastic young players and the opportunity to work with them ahead of the 2015 World Cup was very appealing.

"It was an incredibly difficult decision but ultimately I have decided to stay in New Zealand, mainly for personal reasons. I took the job with the Chiefs so I could move nearer to elderly parents. I have travelled the globe with rugby for the last 15 years and I want to fulfil my commitment to be closer to them.

"I do also feel some loyalty to the Chiefs and the job that I have with them and leaving after eight months when I have a year left on my contract did not feel right."

RFU CEO Ian Ritchie said of Smith's decision: "We are disappointed but it is important to remember we already have some very talented coaches on board. We will take stock after the tour and make sure we do all we can to support Stuart in building a coaching team to take us through to 2015."

Lancaster praised Smith, labelling him a coach of "quality, honesty and integrity" but is now looking forward to working alongside Catt. "Mike has played at the top level and is highly respected," Lancaster said. "He has done a great job at whilst coaching at London Irish and we are looking forward to working with him on this South Africa tour. He is experienced in playing in South Africa and this will be invaluable as we prepare for this challenging and exciting tour."

The news comes on the same day that London Irish confirmed that Catt would leave the club at the end of the season. The World Cup winner admitted he will miss the Exiles but is relishing the chance to make his mark on the five-match tour of South Africa.

"I was very impressed with England during the Six Nations, not just the way they played but the culture that is developing, and hopefully I can complement what Stuart and Graham are doing," Catt said. "There are some talented young players coming through and the chance to work with them for the Barbarians game and the tour is really exciting.

"I'll be sad to leave London Irish and I want to say a huge thanks to all the players and coaches I have worked with since 2004. Toby Booth in particular deserves massive credit for what and how he has taught me."

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