Saints seeking ‘world-class’ rugby director to succeed sacked Jim Mallinder

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Northampton say they will seek a “world-class” rugby director to succeed Jim Mallinder at Franklin’s Gardens.

Saints sacked Mallinder on Tuesday after 10 years in charge. He was the Aviva Premiership’s longest-serving director of rugby.

Mallinder guided Northampton to the Premiership title in 2014, while Saints were beaten European Cup finalists three years earlier. Northampton also won the European Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup under his direction.

But Saints currently lie 10th in the Premiership, having won just four league games all season, and they also prop up their European Champions Cup pool following three successive losses, conceding more points than any other team in the tournament.

The final straw appears to have been last Saturday’s 43-32 European home defeat against the Ospreys – Franklin’s Gardens was barely half full – and Saints have also twice shipped more than 50 points to Saracens this term. They have lost nine of their last 10 games in all competitions.

The vacancy created by Mallinder’s departure is certain to attract considerable interest, and it would be no surprise to see people like former England head coach Stuart Lancaster and ex-Bath boss Mike Ford linked with it.

The club said Northampton attack coach Alan Dickens will take over in a short-term position of interim head coach until a replacement is found for Mallinder.

“Jim has done a superb job as Northampton Saints’ director of rugby over the last decade, and the amount of silverware the club has won during his tenure speaks for itself,” Saints chief executive Mark Darbon said.

“We thank Jim for all he has done at Franklin’s Gardens.

Mallinder steered Northampton to the Premiership title in 2014
Mallinder steered Northampton to the Premiership title in 2014 (Joe Giddens/Empics)

“We will now begin an extensive search to find a world-class director of rugby to replace Jim.

“While that search is under way, we will look to bolster our existing coaching group with some additional leadership and experience on a short-term basis for this season.”

In a statement, Saints said: “Northampton Saints can confirm that director of rugby Jim Mallinder will be leaving his position at the club with immediate effect.

“Having taken the reins at Franklin’s Gardens in 2007, Mallinder was the longest-serving director of rugby in the Aviva Premiership, but due to the recent string of results the Saints board agreed that a change in management was in the best interest of the club.”

And club chairman John White added: “Jim has been an outstanding director of rugby. We have been very lucky to have him at Franklin’s Gardens, and he will always be a part of the Saints family.

“This is not a decision that has been taken lightly, but the board and major shareholders felt that the time was right for some change.”

Saints face a return fixture against the Ospreys in Swansea next Sunday, which is followed by successive Premiership appointments with champions Exeter, Harlequins and Gloucester.

Halifax-born Mallinder, 51, won two England caps on the 1997 tour of Argentina and had a lengthy playing career with Sale. He also coached Sale and England Saxons before linking up with Saints.

And while there were many highlights during his Saints career, this season has continued in a similar vein to last term when Northampton finished seventh in the Premiership and bottom of their Champions Cup group.

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