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Harlequins confirm Director of Rugby and coaching structure

Harlequins is delighted to confirm today (Wednesday 27th April 2016) that current Head Coach John Kingston will become the Club’s Director of Rugby from the beginning of the 2016/17 season.

Commenting on the announcement, Kingston said: "I’m immensely proud of what I have achieved in the last eight years as Head Coach and taking the role of Director of Rugby is an exciting and well timed new challenge for me.

"Conor O’Shea will leave a lasting legacy on this club with the success we have achieved over the last six years and it is something I am excited to build on heading into our 150th year. He has made a massive impression on me, the squad, staff and supporters and we know he will be greatly missed by the whole Club.

"I’m looking forward to getting the best out of a great group of players and a wonderfully exciting new coaching group during the next era for Harlequins."

Kingston, appointed into the role following a rigorous and wide-ranging selection process, will be ably supported by his back room team, which will see Mark Mapletoft become Head Coach after six successful years in the role of Backs Coach.

The new coaching structure also includes British and Irish Lions series winning Coach Graham Rowntree, who will join as Forwards Coach following eight years with England’s national team.

Rowntree said: "To have the opportunity to coach at such a prestigious and historic club really excites me. Harlequins has a very talented playing squad with a wealth of top class experience and a fantastic crop of youngsters. I can't wait to join up with the new coaching group and get started."

Collin Osborne will continue as Skills Coach. With over 20 years at Harlequins, he embodies the Harlequins vision and has extensive experience delivering it through every level of the game.

Number 8 Nick Easter will join the coaching team in charge of defence as he makes the transition from player to coach.

Given Harlequins’ ever increasing focus on developing the Club’s Academy and entering into other formats of the game, including sevens and women, as well as our interests in the USA, Tony Diprose will be promoted to Academy and Global Development Director. The position will oversee the management of the performance pathway and pipeline of elite players for Harlequins.

Confirming the news, Harlequins Chief Executive, David Ellis said: "When we set out on the journey to find a new Director of Rugby we were very clear that we needed somebody who would help drive us onto the next level, while building on our style of play and culture that makes us Harlequins.

"After conducting an extensive and thorough search I am delighted to announce John as our new Director of Rugby. John impressed us all throughout the process. His passion for the Club and our style of play, coupled with his great insight and understanding of our game, will stand us in good stead, and convinced us all he is the right man for the job.

"With the announcements today we are able to augment the strength of our current coaching set up with new thinking and freshness to keep us pushing forward with our ambitions."

Coach Profiles:

John Kingston
John Kingston was educated at Durham School and Cambridge University where he secured three winning Blues in 1980, 1981 and as Captain in 1982.

He then played for Gosforth, Rosslyn Park, Middlesex and London representing England at Schools, Under 23s and England B level.

Starting his coaching at Richmond in 1991, he secured successive promotions with them before becoming Director of Rugby in the new professional era in 1996.

He moved to Ireland in 1999 to coach Galwegians, where he secured promotion to the top flight and then took them to second place in the All Ireland League.

In 2001, he joined Harlequins and took responsibility for the Forwards, as the Club won the European Challenge Cup in 2004.

In 2008, he was appointed Head Coach and in his eight seasons at the helm, the Club has secured four Top 4 finishes, two Heineken Cup Quarter Finals and have also won the Amlin Challenge Cup, the LV= Cup and the Aviva Premiership.

Mark Mapletoft
Former Gloucester Rugby, London Irish, Saracens and Harlequins fly-half Mark Mapletoft returned to the Club in a coaching capacity in 2010. Capped at every level during his career and representing the Barbarians, he began his coaching career as an Academy coach for Saracens before spending four years with the RFU as National Academy Coach.

His role and achievements with the RFU included coaching England U20s to successive Junior World Cup finals in 2008 and 2009. Notable members of his squads include Ben Youngs, Alex Goode, Alex Corbisiero, Courtney Lawes and Joe Marler.

Graham Rowntree
Capped 54 times for England between 1995 and 2006, Graham Rowntree joined Leicester Tigers in 1988 and formed part of the famous ABC club, winning two Heineken Cups and four domestic titles.

Retiring in 2007 he joined the Leicester Tigers coaching set up before becoming England’s Forwards Coach in 2008. Having toured South Africa as a player with the Lions in 1997, he returned in 2009 as Forwards Coach and was an integral part of the coaching set up during the 2013 Series win in Australia.

Collin Osborne
Former PE teacher Collin Osborne joined Harlequins in 1990 as Backs Coach following three years with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union. In 1993 he returned to Zimbabwe as National Coach, before re-joining Harlequins in 1996 as Head of Youth Development.

Collin was appointed Assistant Academy Manager in 2002 and became Academy Manager in 2006. During this time Collin identified and developed talents including Mike Brown, Chris Robshaw, George Lowe and Jordan Turner-Hall. In 2008 Collin joined the senior coaching team as Assistant First Team Coach before becoming Skills Coach.

Nick Easter
Harlequins’ most experienced professional player Nick Easter joined in 2004 from Orrell and has made close to 300 senior appearances for the Club.

The Number 8 has 54 England caps after making his debut in 2007; in his fourth cap, he became the first number 8 to score four tries in a Test match.

The 2007 World Cup finalist captained his country during the 2011 Six Nations winning campaign and became England’s oldest try scorer in 2015, before being the oldest player to score a hat-trick in World Cup history that same year.

Tony Diprose
Tony began his playing career at Saracens while studying at Loughborough University. He was at the north London club for ten years, captaining Michael Lynagh and Philippe Sella before moving to Harlequins in 2001. The former number 8 went on to make 123 appearances for Harlequins.

As a player his international career began in 1997 when he was awarded the first of his ten English caps against Argentina. Diprose captained his country against Australia in 1998, a year after representing the British and Irish Lions during the successful 1997 tour of South Africa.

Retiring from professional rugby in 2006, Diprose joined the Harlequins coaching set up and as Academy Manager has overseen the development of a number of players currently impacting the senior squad including Joe Marler, Jack Clifford, George Lowe, Will Collier, Kyle Sinckler and Luke Wallace.

Since 2008 he has combined the role of Academy Manager and Defence Coach at Harlequins.  During this period of coaching the 1st XV the Club has won the Amlin Challenge Cup, the LV= Cup, and the Aviva Premiership.

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