Nov 26, 2015
Hodgson to follow well trodden path at Saracens
Premiership legend Charlie Hodgson will be the latest Saracens stalwart who will swap the training paddock for the coaching office, with the 35-year old fly-half confirming that he will retire at the end of the season to take up the role of Head of Recruitment and Talent Identification with the club.
Hodgson will follow in the foot-steps of other Sarries players who have moved into a backroom role after their respective retirements and join the Saracens ‘boot-room’ environment.
“It’s great for the club to provide our players with a pathway into a different career,”said Saracens Director of Rugby, Mark McCall, after Hodgson’s announcement.
“In the past we have seen the likes of Paul Gustard, Alex Sanderson, Kevin Sorrell, Kevin Barrett, Andy Edwards and Don Barrell transfer from the playing staff into backroom team with great success. We think that such continuity in personnel is key for us.”
Here we take a look at members of the Saracens back room team who have played for Saracens and taken up a role with the club after their playing careers.
Paul Gustard – Forwards and Defence Coach
Paul Gustard was a new addition to the Saracens coaching team for the 2008/09 campaign after spending the previous two seasons as a player at the North London Club.
After calling time on his 11-year professional career at the end of the 2007/08 season following spells with Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Saracens, Gustard has made the successful move into coaching as the club’s defence and forwards coach after making 49 Premiership appearances for the Men in Black.
Gustard has been a categorical success as a coach, with the North Easterners ‘Wolfpack’ defence system integral to Saracens upturn in fortunes over the last six seasons and helped coach England on their tour of Argentina in 2013.
Alex Sanderson – Forwards Coach
After being forced to retire as a player aged 26 because of injury, Alex Sanderson then moved into coaching and has taken up the role of Forwards Coach for the 2008/09 campaign.
He had a brief stint working with the Saracens Forwards at the end of the 2005/06 season following his retirement and having identified that he would make a good coach, Saracens supported his development throughout his spells with Queensland Reds and the England U18 teams.
As a player, the abrasive back row forward won five caps for England and it would have been more were it not for the back injuries that affected his playing career that saw him spend six seasons with Sale Sharks and two years with Saracens.
Dovetailing with Paul Gustard to coach the Saracens forwards, Sanderson has played key part in making the Sarries pack one of the most feared in Europe in both the loose and especially the set-piece.
Kevin Sorrell – Backs Coach
In his twentieth year of service to Saracens Kevin Sorrell can be rightly labelled as one of club’s most influential figures during the professional era.
Sorrell began his Saracens journey in 1995, joining the Bramley Road club as a youngster before the game turned professional. In his formative years the silky centre was member of the Saracens squad that narrowly missed out on the Premiership in 1996, and was a non-playing member of the 1998 Tetley Bitter Cup winning side.
With long-serving centre Steve Ravenscroft and the departing French legend Philippe Sella retiring, Sorrell was promoted to the Saracens senior set-up and never looked back.
Sorrell retired from professional rugby at the end of the 2009/10 season and took up a role on the club’s coaching staff after a career that saw him make 303 appearances for the club. He won Saracens player of the year on two occasions during his playing days, represented England A and was a consistent and dependable presence throughout the constant changes at Vicarage Road.
After two years working with the Saracens Academy since hanging up his boots, Sorrell was promoted to first team backs coach at the start of the 2012/13 season. During his tenure as backs coach, Saracens have been the leading point’s scorers in the Aviva Premiership for two consecutive seasons.
Kevin Barrett – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Renowned for his competitive nature and pace, scrum-half Barrett began his career at London Irish before making the move to Exeter.
Barrett signed for Saracens in 2009 from Exeter Chiefs. During that season, Barrett was a member of the victorious side that beat the Springboks at Wembley Stadium and a year later he captained the club to the 2010 JP Morgan 7s title.
Initially vying for the number nine shirt alongside Neil de Kock, Mosese Rauluni and then later Richard Wigglesworth (who joined in 2010), Barrett was a dependable presence whenever he was called upon during his spell at Vicarage Road. He made 14 league appearances for the north Londoners before moving back to Exeter in 2011.
After spending two seasons back at Sandy Park with the Exeter Chiefs following his previous spell at Saracens, Barrett decided to hang his boots up at the age of 32 to become a Strength and Conditioning coach at the club.
Andy Edwards – Head of Strength and Conditioning
A promising full-back who was earmarked for a fine career in the game, Andy Edwards was a member of the Saracens Academy from 2004 before a series of injuries unfortunately curtailed a promising career. He has gone on to work for England Saxons during his time with the Club as a Strength and Conditioning coach.
Now Head of Saracens’ Strength and Conditioning team, Edwards has played a key role with the club since his transition from player to coach and has heavily influenced Academy graduates such as Owen Farrell, Will Fraser, Jamie George, George Kruis and Jackson Wray in their development as players.
Don Barrell – Academy Manager
Don Barrell made his first of 39 Sarries appearances against Northampton in April 2004 in a Saracens career that stretched seven years. A hard working back rower, Barrell moved to Bedford Blues before taking up a full-time role with Saracens as Academy Manager.
Barrell now heads up Saracens highly regarded Academy system that has recently produced some of the country’s finest young stars alongside former Northampton Saints and Stade Français half back Ian Vass, former Gloucester and Bristol playmaker Rory Teague and ex-Sarries Academy flyer, James Tirrell.
The Saracens Academy set-up has recently produced starlets such as Maro Itoje, Nathan Earle and Nick Tompkins, who have all gone on to play for the Saracens senior side with some distinction.
Hugh Vyvyan – Commercial Director
Vyvyan joined Saracens in the summer of 2004 and quickly became a cornerstone of the Saracens pack. He was named captain upon his arrival to the club as he continued to be regarded as one of the Premierships most feared and respected forwards.
He would go onto win the Premiership with Saracens in 2011 against the Leicester Tigers, where he came off the bench and in the process became the most capped Premiership player. He retired in 2012 and is still a key member of the club as Commercial Director.