Newcastle Falcons academy head coach James Ponton will form part of England Under-20s' management team for the upcoming Six Nations and Junior World Championship.
Led by RFU performance manager Steve Bates, a former director of rugby at the Falcons himself, Ponton is joined by Richard Blaze and Anthony Allen in taking charge of an England Under-20s team who won a Six Nations Grand Slam last season as well as reaching the final of the Junior World Championship.
England's Six Nations campaign sees them playing at Kingston Park Stadium on Friday February 9 when they host Wales, with tickets for the 7.45pm kick-off available by clicking here.
The trio will receive an individually designed coach development programme, which commenced on November 15 with a visit to Pennyhill Park to observe the England senior team’s preparations.
The coaches will also have access to mentors and be exposed to a range of non-rugby elite performance environments that will involve visits to and interactions with coaches, support staff and athletes from a range of sports.
Ponton said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to improve as a coach and gain experience in a different environment as well as working with people like Dean Ryan and Steve Bates. I’m hugely excited now to start working with the players ahead of both the Six Nations and the World Rugby U20 Championship.”
RFU head of international player development Dean Ryan said: “The coaches will gain experience from working in a different environment with people who have different ideas and approaches to them.
“We have a stronger idea now of how we want England Under-20s to play so they will have to amend their own philosophies but they will also gain experience of coaching at two international tournaments – the Six Nations as well as the World Rugby U20 Championship. We believe that experience will stand them in good stead in the future.
“The opportunity to be a senior coach in an international environment doesn’t come around too often so this is a unique experience for them with a group of very talented young rugby players.”