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  • Writer's pictureLinda Andrews - Editorial Assistant, Nuse Online

England Coaching Staff Announced For Men's A Match Against Portugal

George Skivington will head up an all-Gallagher Premiership line-up of coaching staff to lead England Men’s A against Portugal this February.  The A side return after an eight-year absence for an encounter with Os Lobos at Leicester Tigers Stadium on Sunday 25 February, kicking-off at 13:00 GMT. 

Skivington will be joined in the dugout by fellow Gloucester Rugby coach Dom Waldouck, who will lead on defence, whilst Northampton Saints’ Sam Vesty will be in charge of England’s attack. Having retired from a successful playing career with Wasps in 2016, Skivington moved into coaching, firstly with Samoa in 2015 before working at London Irish as an assistant coach between 2016 and 2020. He was later appointed head coach at Gloucester Rugby in 2020.

The 41-year-old is no stranger to the England A team environment having captained the side on a number of occasions. He lifted the Churchill Cup in 2010, having also played in a 66-0 win over Portugal for the team in 2009. 

Dom Waldouck accompanied Skivington in that convincing victory, scoring a try in the only previous meeting of the nations 15 years ago at Sedgley Park. The 36-year-old also has playing experience with the England U20 Men’s team. 

Former centre Waldouck has been a part of the coaching group at Kingsholm since Skivington’s appointment four seasons ago and previously lifted the Heineken Cup and Premiership title as a Wasps player. 

Sam Vesty, the current head coach of Northampton Saints, will lead the A side’s attack. Vesty’s Saints are currently top of the Gallagher Premiership table and the coach will hope to bring with him the attacking threat that has seen Saints top the Premiership’s try-scoring charts for the last two seasons.

The 42-year-old knows Leicester well having played for Leicester Tigers 164 times, becoming the fourth member of his family to play for the club before moving to Bath Rugby where he made a further 64 appearances. The utility back retired in 2013 before taking on a coaching role at Worcester Warriors.

Whilst at Sixways, Vesty was appointed skills coach for England’s two-Test tour of Argentina. In 2018, he was named Northampton Saints attack coach before taking on the role of head coach in 2022. The coaching team was chosen in consultation alongside Premiership Rugby, with the selection of the first matchday 23 since 2016 to be determined by senior men’s head coach, Steve Borthwick, in due course.

Portugal will provide a stern test for England Men’s A team after a strong showing in last year’s Rugby World Cup, which included a draw against Georgia followed by a maiden tournament win over quarter-finalists Fiji. 

Speaking ahead of the announcement, George Skivington voiced his delight in being confirmed as the England Men’s A head coach.

“It’s a massive honour to be asked by Conor (O’Shea) and Steve (Borthwick) to lead the England Men’s A team next month. I recognise the trust they have placed in me with this opportunity, and I look forward to linking up with the coaching group and the squad in February."

“I’m delighted that Dom Waldouck will be joining me as defence coach. His passion for the game and dedication to his craft makes him an exciting young coach who I think will develop to be one of the best in the country."

“The England Men’s A team will serve as a good opportunity for young English players on the cusp of international honours to show what they’re about.”

Sam Vesty said:

“It’s always a privilege and an honour to be asked to help support England, to wear a Red Rose on your chest and to compete at a high level, so I can’t wait to get started."

“It’s a great opportunity for me to work with some of the best young talent in the country. We’ll be encouraging these players to go out and play what’s in front of them, getting their eyes up and putting their best foot forward – both in terms of playing well in the game against Portugal, but also hopefully progressing on to further honours with England."

“It’s a great learning and development opportunity as well for me to experience a different environment, working with different players and coaches, and I’ll head into camp with a really open mind.”  

RFU Executive Director of Performance Rugby Conor O’Shea said:

“On behalf of the RFU, I’d like to thank both Gloucester and Northampton, alongside Premiership Rugby, for their collaboration and effort in assembling what is a very exciting coaching panel ahead of our Men’s A fixture against Portugal next month." 

“We’re fortunate to possess a coaching staff boasting a wealth of experience in the game that totals decades and will be a fantastic match for the appropriate challenge of Os Lobos."

“Each member of the coaching staff was picked with the consideration of their ability to develop young players and bringing international talent to the top of English rugby."

“This fixture, as well as the England Men’s A games to come, aims to elevate that platform and build a consistent pathway for young English players into the senior level of the game in this country.” 

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