RFU recruit academy guru Barrell from Saracens

Don Barrell has followed in the footsteps of Andy Farrell and Paul Gustard in leaving Saracens for a role at the Rugby Football Union.

Over 18 years at Saracens, Barrell went from player to coach to academy manager but will join the RFU in July to take up a role as head of regional academies, where he will report into Dean Ryan.

“It is with great sadness but also huge thanks that I leave Saracens to take up a new challenge with the RFU,” Barrell said. “Saracens has been a part of my life for the last 18 years in one form or another. I have grown up within the club and take with me brilliant memories from my time as a player and later from my time within the academy.

“It has been a privilege to be within an organisation that has allowed me to grow as a coach and trusted me to help develop the next generation of Saracens. The academy has a great group of staff who are supported brilliantly by everyone at the club, I have no doubt they will continue to be successful.

“I have learnt every day at the club and would like to thank all of the staff, players, supporters and my family who have been incredibly kind to me for almost two decades!”

Barrell oversaw the academy which brought through England star Maro Itoje alongside his Saracens teammates Nathan Earle and Nick Tompkins and his appointment is quite a coup for the RFU.

Ryan said: “We’re delighted to have secured the services of Don for this hugely important role as we enter a new phase for the Regional Academy programme.

“Don has a wide-ranging skill set and a vast knowledge of the academy system and this is a fantastic opportunity for him to develop a strategic direction of the programme to ensure a network of high performance.”