Where Are They Now | Steve Borthwick & Richard Wigglesworth
The statement that Steve Borthwick has turned into one of the best coaches in England is already pretty obvious.
But what a lot of people might not know is that Steve first stepping out on his coaching pathway began while he was playing at Saracens. Having joined the ‘Men in Black’ from Bath in 2008, he began his coaching career with the club’s U18 team, led by Nick Tompkins, in 2012.
On the field, Steve played more than 140 times over six seasons and had the distinction of captaining Saracens to their first Premiership title in 2011. Ironically, the team they beat in the final was none other than Leicester Tigers!
The previous year he had led Sarries into their first final, only to see them lose to the Tigers, and he ended his illustrious career on an agonising note with another premiership final defeat, this time after extra-time against Northampton Saints.
“I was coached by some top quality coaches in my career and that started me thinking about how much I’d seen them help people. Then I got an opportunity to coach in Japan with Eddie Jones,” said Steve.
“That was as a consultant at first in 2012, then full-time in 2014 and though the World Cup in 2015. That was some journey to be a part of. Eddie as leading a brilliant programme and I was lucky enough to be a part of that as an assistant coach.
“To have those experiences, to live in a different part of the world and to see rugby being played differently really opened my eyes. We had a couple of ways of playing and one of them was very different to anything I’d experienced previously.
“Eddie signed me at Saracens and he was one of some brilliant coaches I worked under during my career. I always thought Andy Robinson, who took me to Bath, was a great coach – I was very fortunate.
“One of the reasons I really love coaching is that I like helping people to get better, to be happy and to achieve their goals. I can’t play anymore, but I can help my players and try to give the fans the chance to wear a smile on their faces.”
The 2015 World Cup saw Jones and Borthwick work a rugby miracle as the Japanese added the considerable scalp of the springboks to those of the American eagles and Samoa. That led to him being announced as the forwards coach for the then Championship club Bristol for the 2015/16 season.
That move was short-lived as, following the appointment of Jones as England head coach in December, he joined forces with him again as forwards of his national team.
After five seasons with England, he was appointed head coach at Leicester in February 2020, finally arriving at Welford Road during the lockdown period in July that year. Some 18 months on and his Tigers team arrive here today 16 points clear at the top of the table and the team to beat this season.
Joining him in Leicester dug-out these days, when he’s not playing, is another former Saracens legend, Richard Wigglesworth. He, too, first cut his teeth in coaching while he was with Sarries, balancing his playing duties in his final two seasons with the ‘Men in Black’ with those of coaching at Championship club Ealing Trailfinders.
Richard made more than 250 appearances for Saracens and won five Premiership titles and three Heineken Champions Cup finals. Now 38, he has gone on to become the first player in Premiership history to play more than 300 league games.
Saracens has long been associated with a great academy, as a club that can produce international talent and it is also an environment out of which great coaches emerge. Today two of them will return and here is a list of a few others who have gone on to do very well in coaching and management since leaving our club.
Raphael IbanezSpent five years as a coach at Bordeaux Begles before becoming the French national team manager in 2020. Simon Raiwalui Now General Manager of High Performance at the Fijian union and a former coach at Racing 92, Stade Francais Paris and with the Wallabies.
Alex SandersonWas part of the coaching team at Sarries between 2008-21 before taking up his current post as director of rugby at Sale Sharks. Helped the ‘Men in Black’ win three European titles and five Premierships in an amazing 12 year period.
Andy FarrellSpent three years as an assistant coach at Sarries before joining the England set-up. Became the Irish defence coach, Munster head coach and then head coach of Ireland. Also toured with the 2017 British & Irish Lions as defence coach.
Gordon RossCurrently the backs coach at URC club the Dragons. Previously worked at Worcester Warriors.
Steve DiamondSpent two years coaching at Sarries before heading off to look after the Russian national team. Then become the long term director of Sale Sharks before taking over the same role at Worcester Warriors in the second half of this season.
Eddie JonesThe current England head coach got his first shot at coaching in England as a technical advisor to Saracens in 2006 and again in 2007-09. He had already coached Australia, but went on to take charge of the Queensland Reds, Suntory Goliath, Japan and now England .
. . . and on our current staff there are three ex-players who successfully transitioned from playing to coaching – Kevin Sorrell, Kelly Brown and Adam Powell.