Northampton Saints' Academy head coach Mark Hopley has been named as one of three England Under-20s coaches for the 2018/19 season.
Hopley, James Scaysbrook and Richard Whiffin all join for 18 months as part of the latest coach development programme agreement signed between the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Premiership Rugby.
The programme will run alongside the coaches’ current club duties and will include the 2019 Six Nations as well as next year’s World Rugby U20 Championship tournament in Argentina.
"It’s an honour to take on the challenge of coaching an international representative team as well as the Saints Academy."Mark Hopley
Hopley was appointed Northampton Saints academy head coach in March 2018, and came through the Saints Academy himself before making more than 50 appearances in the first team, initially joining the coaching staff in 2010.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity to coach England U20s and to work with an extremely talented group of players,” he said.
“I can’t wait to pick up from where the last group of coaches left off. It’s an honour to take on the challenge of coaching an international representative team as well as Saints Academy.
“I hope I can further improve as a coach during my tenure.”
The U20 coaching team will be supported by RFU pathway performance coaches Steve Bates and Jim Mallinder, while the trio will receive an individually designed coach development programme, led by head of professional coach development Gordon Lord.
This year’s coaches will also be directly involved in preparing for, delivering and reviewing the U20’s coaching and playing programme.
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.
Head of international player development Dean Ryan said: “We’re now the third year into the programme and we’re really looking to continue supporting those coaches that have a desire to go on and work in the Premiership or a senior environment.
“The agreement started as a support programme but it’s starting to see a trajectory into those environments with the coaches who have come through it.
“This is the next group who we will want to support and give experience of coaching international rugby to help with the development of their own careers.”