England coaches John Wells and Mike Ford to leave posts

England coaches John Wells and Mike Ford
England's 2011 World Cup campaign ended in quarter-final defeat by France

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has confirmed that coaches John Wells and Mike Ford will be leaving their posts.

They were England's forwards and defence coaches respectively at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups.

Their exits come as the RFU reassesses its backroom team following England's poor World Cup campaign.

"John and Mike have given great service to England and their contribution is appreciated," said acting RFU chief executive Stephen Brown.

He added: "In his five-and-a-half years with the senior team Mike created one of the best defences in world rugby, and while the World Cup was obviously disappointing overall, it should be noted that England conceded just three tries in their five matches - the joint lowest in the tournament."

England are still searching for a full-time coach after Martin Johnson quit as manager in November, in the wake of their England's quarter-final defeat by France.

The RFU appointed Stuart Lancaster on an interim basis early this month, alongside current England scrummaging coach Graham Rowntree and Saracens first-team coach Andy Farrell.

With Brian Smith resigning as attack coach and Dave Alred also leaving the RFU, only Rowntree remains from the World Cup coaching set-up.

Wells and Ford came in for criticism in leaked reports into England's World Cup campaign but opted to wait until the end of their contracts to make the decision not to renew their deals.

Wells said: "It has been a real privilege and a great honour to have been involved with the RFU for the last six years.

"I have been part of a very successful National Academy and England Saxons set-up and been to two World Cups including a World Cup final in 2007, with the victories over Australia in Marseille and France in Paris as stunning highlights with the England team.

"Now is the right time to move on to look for a new challenge within the game.

"I am proud to be leaving at the end of a year in which England has introduced a wealth of young talent, won 10 out of 13 games and are the current Six Nations champions."

Ford said: "To be England's defence coach over the last five-and-a-half years has been an absolute honour and I have worked with some great players and management. The World Cup was a watershed and it is time for a new environment.

"I wish Stuart and everyone the very best for the Six Nations and I firmly believe that England can win it."

Former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett and Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder are believed to be among the favourites for the job on a permanent basis.

England open their Six Nations campaign in six weeks' time against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, 4 February, with Lancaster due to name a new 32-man elite squad (EPS) on 11 January.

Lancaster and RFU professional rugby director Rob Andrew have decided not to enforce the agreement whereby EPS players are obliged to be given a weekend off ahead of the Six Nations, in the period covering last weekend's European fixtures and the two rounds of Premiership action over Christmas and New Year.

Andrew said: "We decided that given the clubs were without their World Cup players for a substantial period up to and during the tournament it was right that the EPS period should be waived over what is a crucial European and domestic rugby period."

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