The England head coach, Simon Middleton, is leaving his post at the end of the Women’s Six Nations campaign, with regret at missing out on the World Cup but pride at transforming the landscape of the game for female players. The 57-year-old took the Red Roses to the Women’s World Cup final in 2017 and 2022, but they were twice foiled by New Zealand.
England built a record-breaking 30-match winning run before they were edged out by the Black Ferns 34-31 in Auckland three months ago. After taking charge in 2015, Middleton guided England to five Six Nations titles, including four grand slams, but feels the time is right for him to leave.
“There have been great memories built around success and great memories built around defeat,” said Middleton. “Do I regret not signing off winning the World Cup as a head coach? Yes for sure, but I know we can all live with that because we could not have worked harder or given more; sometimes that’s just not quite enough and it wasn’t on the day.
“Representing England in a coaching or playing capacity must be the pinnacle of any sporting career and I can’t put into words how proud and fortunate I’ve been to be able to do this for the last nine years.
“During this tenure, I have worked with incredible players and staff and I will miss the daily interactions. I would like to say a huge thank you for their efforts and everything they have done to support the programme and contribute to our success.
“Now our attentions turn to being able to perform as well as we can with the goal of winning the Six Nations. It’s a really exciting tournament, culminating in a match against France at Twickenham in front of a huge crowd, which will be an inspiring and incredible occasion for everyone.
“It’s a crucial tournament in the build-up to [the] 2025 [World Cup] and I cannot wait to be back with the group.”
The RFU performance director, Conor O’Shea, said: “I know how motivated Simon is to finish his time with the Red Roses on a high with a successful Women’s Six Nations campaign.
“He has achieved more than most coaches ever do, but it’s the manner he has conducted himself as a person and his commitment to making the Red Roses the best they can be that stands out above the wins and the awards.
“We have been working on our coach succession planning processes over the past 18 months and we will initiate that immediately with a view to announcing Simon’s replacement after this year’s Six Nations.”