Bedford Blues Assistant Coach Nick Walshe, 36, has joined the RFU Elite Rugby Department as a National Academy Coach to replace Leeds Carnegie bound Diccon Edwards.
Walshe will assist with the England Under 20 squad alongside Head Coach Rob Hunter. The U20s enjoyed a successful 2010/12 season, winning a 6 Nations Grand Slam and finishing second at the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship.
Before joining Bedford, Walshe began coaching part time at a local Bath club, Old Sulians, laying the foundations for their promotion to the Somerset Premier before taking on a player/backs coach role at Blues in 2008.
The former scrum half appeared several times for the England A Team before winning two full England caps as a replacement on the 2006 tour to Australia.
Speaking about his appointment, Walshe said: “I’m hugely excited about starting my new role with the RFU and making the most of a fantastic opportunity. It’s an exciting challenge, and one I can’t wait to start. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bedford working with Mike Rayer, but I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my career.
"I spent a bit of time working with the England U18 squad last season, and there are some extremely talented players coming through the ranks, so to be able to be part of that is a privilege. The U20s had a great season last time around, and a lot of those players are still qualified to play next year, so I’m looking forward to working alongside Rob Hunter and developing the guys as best we can.”
RFU’s Rugby Operations Director Rob Andrew added: “We are delighted to welcome Nick to the RFU. We are sure he will contribute a great deal in his role as a National Academy Coach and in assisting Rob Hunter in coaching the England U20 squad. He was successful from a strong field of applicants, impressed us with his knowledge of the role, the players and the U20 development programme.
“He has made the transition from an elite player to an elite coach in a focussed and planned manner, gaining valuable coaching experience in the Championship under the expert guidance of Mike Rayer and has worked successfully at gaining the highest coaching qualifications. He is relishing the challenge of coaching a talented group of England U20 backs. The RFU continues to be committed to identifying and developing young English coaching talent and we believe that Nick will add to his coaching experience and development in this role.”
Bedford Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: "Everyone at the club is delighted for Nick and we wish him well for the future. He will be sorely missed by all of us here at Goldington Rd not just as a player and coach but also as a person as well. He has added huge value here on and off the field and developed a lot good players over the last three years.
"Our loss is the RFU’s gain and I’ve no doubt that he will do an outstanding job nurturing the next generation of England Internationals.
"Nick has developed as a coach extremely well since he joined us and it is a tribute to the Championship that he has been recognised for this role. This competition is proving to be a springboard not just for players but also for coaches.”