Saracens Academy Manager Don Barrell will leave the Club at the end of the season to take up a role with the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
Barrell, who has had an 18-year association with Saracens as a player, coach and Academy Manager, is to join the RFU as Head of Regional Academies.
Reporting to Dean Ryan, Head of International Performance, Barrell will take up the role in July and will be responsible for leading and managing the Regional Academy programme.
Speaking about his contribution to Saracens, director of rugby Mark McCall said: “Don’s contribution to Saracens, as a player and as a coach, has been tremendous. He is a Saracens man and boy, having been at the Club for 18-years. Although we are always sad to see a man of his calibre go elsewhere, we are delighted to see Don continue to develop as a coach and as a person taking up this exciting role at the RFU.
“He remains one of the most popular figures here at Saracens – both in his time as a player and in his role as an Academy Manager. He has built on some very strong foundations and taken our academy system to the next level and I think his progression is another example of the benefits of investing in people. He follows the likes of Andy Farrell, Paul Gustard, Steve Borthwick and recently Ian Vass, of continuing his development with the RFU and I’m sure we’ll see Don return to Saracens at some point in the future as he continues to blossom as a coach. He leaves with our best wishes.”
In a playing career that saw him represent England 7s, Barrell made his Saracens debut in March 2004 in a Premiership clash against Northampton Saints and played an important squad-role at the club during the time the north Londoners were transformed from English rugby also-rans to Champions of England. He left Saracens to play for Bedford Blues in 2011 but was still a presence at Saracens as an Academy coach and after his retirement from playing in 2014, he has thrived in the role as Manager of the highly successful Saracens Academy that has recently produced players such as Maro Itoje, Nathan Earle and Nick Tompkins.
Speaking of his impending departure, Barrell said: “It is with great sadness but also huge thanks that I leave Saracens to take up a new challenge with the RFU. Saracens has been a part of my life for the last 18 years in one form or another. I have grown up within the club and take with me brilliant memories from my time as a player and later from my time within the Academy.”
“It has been a privilege to be within an organisation that has allowed me to grow as a coach and trusted me to help develop the next generation of Saracens. The academy has a great group of staff who are supported brilliantly by everyone at the club, I have no doubt they will continue to be successful.
“I have learnt every day at the club and would like to thank all of the staff, players, supporters and my family who have been incredibly kind to me for almost two decades!”
Barrell added: “I wish the club the best of luck and will be looking forward to seeing everyone during the rest of the season as they continue to work hard and make memories.”
RFU Head of International Performance Dean Ryan, said: “We’re delighted to have secured the services of Don for this hugely important role as we enter a new phase for the Regional Academy programme. Don has a wide-ranging skill set and a vast knowledge of the academy system and this is a fantastic opportunity for him to develop a strategic direction of the programme to ensure a network of high performance.”