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Paul Gustard appointed new Benetton defence coach

The ex-England defence coach has signed a three-year deal to assist Marco Bortolami at the Italian club from this summer.

Paul Gustard has moved quickly to secure a new position following his departure from Harlequins by being appointed Benetton Rugby’s defence coach.

Gustard’s time as head of rugby at The Stoop ended last week after a disappointing start to the Gallagher Premiership but he has signed a three-year deal to act as assistant to Marco Bortolami at the Italian club, beginning in July.

The former England defence coach left Eddie Jones’ staff to take up his role as number one at Quins in 2018, but was unable to bring consistency to a club that has historically suffered from rollercoaster form.

“I am thrilled and happy to join Benetton. When my wife Laura and I decided in December that we wanted a new experience and new challenges, we were delighted to have so many opportunities available to us nationally and internationally,” Gustard said.

“We wanted to be part of a group where there was a clear vision, a deep level of trust and a dynamic environment driven towards high goals.

“When I first spoke to Marco and he explained his plans and vision in detail, I felt inspired by his passion and energy.

“I already feel extremely involved and have a strong alignment with the club management, so I know this is the right opportunity for us.

Former Italy Marco Bortolami is Benetton's head coach
Former Italy international Marco Bortolami is Benetton’s head coach  (Hannah McKay/PA)

“They have been nothing short of exceptional in the way they communicated with me and we are very excited to be joining the club.”

Benetton are anchored to the foot of Conference B in the Guinness PRO14, 15 points adrift of Edinburgh.

“Benetton have a talented roster of players with an exciting team of coaches. I look forward to assisting and supporting this team in our collective development,” Gustard said.

“I will strive to learn the language, embrace the culture and invest in them in the same way they did with me.”

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