Rugby's worst kept secret is officially out and in the public.
Paul Gustard will be leaving England and joining up with Aviva Premiership side Harlequins once the tour of South Africa is complete.
The new head of rugby said it was “hugely exciting” to take on a new challenge with the Aviva Premiership club, despite it meaning having to leave a role with his country.
Quins have confirmed the appointment of England defence coach Gustard, who will take up his new post after next month’s tour to South Africa.
The 42-year-old replaces John Kingston, who revealed in April that he would be leaving Quins at the end of the season.
“Harlequins is delighted to announce that England defence coach Paul Gustard will join the London club as head of rugby, following the conclusion of England’s summer tour to South Africa,” Harlequins said in a statement.
Former Leicester, London Irish, and Saracens flanker Gustard has worked alongside England head coach Eddie Jones since January 2016 and was under contract with the Rugby Football Union until after the 2019 World Cup.
However, as Gustard said in his statement, opportunities like this don't come around often, so when it was offered to him, he simply had to snap it up.
“Opportunities like this don’t come along very often,” Gustard said.
“To be given the chance to lead a club as rich in talent, heritage, and support as Harlequins is hugely exciting.
“I am a proud Englishman and it has been a privilege to represent my country and work under Eddie. There have been some incredible memories which I will cherish, and I will look back proudly on my contribution with England. I am desperate for England to do well as we push on to World Cup glory next year.”
As well as talking about the new job, Gustard paid a moving tribute to Jones, who has helped him during their time together with England.
“My relationship with Eddie is strong and positive,” he added. “He has supported me in accepting this new role and I will continue to have a strong relationship with him on our tour to South Africa and beyond.
“He was the first to give me an opportunity in 2008 and again in 2016 when he recruited me for England. I will always be thankful to him.
“However, I am now ready to lead a team and I am thrilled to have this chance at one of the Premiership’s biggest clubs. I just couldn’t turn this opportunity down.
“I would like to thank the RFU and Eddie personally for their support and for allowing me to leave early to take up this fantastic opportunity with Harlequins.”
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