Simon Middleton to coach England women's XV and Sevens squad

Simon Middleton
Middleton joined the RFU in February 2014

Simon Middleton is to take over as head coach of the World Cup-winning England women's team.

The 48-year-old is currently in charge of the Sevens squad and will now also lead the XVs in a new role which combines both duties.

Middleton will start in May after the Sevens World Series.

"I am coming into this role when women's rugby is in a great place. It is a really exciting time to be involved," said Middleton.

"For me personally, this is a fantastic opportunity and a challenge I am really looking forward to."

His new contract runs until 2017.

England won the World Cup by defeating Canada last August but several of the players in that squad have since retired from international rugby.

The Rugby Football Union parted company with Gary Street, who led the team to the World Cup, just before the start of the Six Nations.

Nicky Ponsford, head of women's performance, took over, along with Street's assistant coach Graham Smith.

England lost to Wales but beat Italy in their two Six Nations games so far.

They travel to Ireland for their next fixture on Friday (19:30 GMT).

BBC women's rugby commentator Sara Orchard
"Taken on in 2014 as the Sevens coach, Middleton has been splitting his energies between the XVs and Sevens programmes for the last year.
"His input proved popular with the XVs squad during the World Cup-winning campaign in Paris. The decision for him to 'double up' across the two codes is unusual; it wouldn't necessarily be something you'd see Stuart Lancaster agree to with the men.
"However, with many of the England women still playing both XVs and Sevens a single 'over-seeing eye' could benefit player welfare and development."