Bates is appointed Saxons head coach

PUBLISHED: 15:32 16 January 2008 | UPDATED: 21:39 26 October 2009

IN FULL FLOW: Steve Bates during  his England days

IN FULL FLOW: Steve Bates during his England days

TWO former Welwyn rugby players will form part of England s backroom team for the coming international season. Times Territory pair Steve Bates and Simon Hardy will both figure in the England Saxons coaching set-up for the 2008 shadow Six Nations competit

TWO former Welwyn rugby players will form part of England's backroom team for the coming international season.

Times Territory pair Steve Bates and Simon Hardy will both figure in the England Saxons coaching set-up for the 2008 shadow Six Nations competition.

Bates, who started his rugby education at Handside Lane in Welwyn's 1st XV as a 15-year-old before enjoying a distinguished club career with top London side Wasps, will head up the England Saxons coaching team for the season.

He will be joined by RFU National Academy coaches Graham Rowntree and former Stanborough School teacher Hardy, who recently took a training session at his old club for girls' team Welwyn Warriors.

The Saxons - England's A team - will play two fixtures against Ireland A at Welford Road in Leicester on Friday, February 1, kick-off 7.45pm, and Italy A in Sicily on Saturday, February 9, 6.15pm start local time.

Hardy, a specialist lineout coach, and was part of Sir Clive Woodward's coaching team that helped England win the Webb Ellis Cup at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

He also assisted with coaching England to the final of last year's World Cup in France.

Hardy is looking forward to working alongside Bates, having been on opposite benches at the 2006 Churchill Cup.

Through their Welwyn links, Hardy, also 4-handicapper at WGC Golf Club, and Bates have known each other for years.

Hardy said: "Steve and I are both Welwyn locals, we speak often and share a lot of mutual friends.

"We coached against each other in the 2006 Churchill Cup when he was with Scotland A.

"I'm very much looking forward to working together, particularly as we get on so well outside rugby."

During his playing days, scrum-half Bates formed an impressive club partnership at Wasps with Rob Andrew, the RFU's current elite rugby director, and made 11 County Championship appearances for Hertfordshire.

The former teacher won just one full senior England cap against Romania in the summer of 1989 during the game's amateur days.

After retiring from playing, Bates carved out a successful coaching career with Newcastle Falcons, where he nurtured the burgeoning talent of England's 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson, having previously taught him at Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire.

Bates left Newcastle in 2003 and became director of rugby at Borders in Scotland, leading them into the Heineken Cup.

He went on to coach Scotland A at the Barclays Churchill Cup in Canada two years ago - ironically coaching them to victory over England Saxons 13-7 in Toronto.

The former Welwyn resident has since returned to Kingston Park as Newcastle's technical director.

"It's a great honour for me personally and to Newcastle Falcons as a club to be involved at such a high standard," said Bates.

"The Saxons has proven its worth of late with a number of guys making the step up to the full senior squad having performed well for the Saxons, and I'm looking forward to being part of that set-up when the time comes.

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