Northampton Saints defence coach Alan Dickens has been appointed as the new head coach of England Under 20 side with immediate effect.
Dickens, 43, is a former Sale Sharks, Leeds Tykes, Saracens and Northampton scrum-half, and has been involved in the coaching set-up at Franklin’s Gardens since retiring as a player in 2010.
He has coached at all levels at the club including academy manager and interim head coach. In 2016 he toured South Africa as defence coach with England Saxons – with the side winning both matches against Springboks A.
“I’m thrilled to take on this important role with the RFU. The most exciting thing for me is seeing young players progress within their clubs, and ultimately then into the England first team squad," he told England Rugby's official website.
“I’ve felt real pride in recent years seeing young Northampton players make the step up to international level, make their debuts and go on to play in Six Nations Championships and World Cups.
“The player pathway while I’ve been coaching has been really strong, with England reaching the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship nine times over the last 12 years and winning the tournament on three occasions, so of course I’m keen to continue that run of success."
Meanwhile, Dickens' role in Northampton has been assigned on an interim basis to academy coach Jake Sharp.