Rob Hunter heads for Exeter Chiefs from England Under-20 set-up
England Under-20 head coach Rob Hunter will join Exeter Chiefs after the Six Nations Championship as forwards coach.
Hunter will join the Aviva Premiership club on April 1 after three successful seasons with the Under 20s, one as assistant coach and two as head coach, but is still hopeful of securing an unprecedented third Under-20 Six Nations title in a row.
He said: "At the moment we are committed to the Under 20s and this Six Nations campaign and that is where the focus lies. We enjoyed a good win over Scotland and a narrow defeat to Ireland but the one-game-at-a-time mentality is what we're sticking to, and France in Worcester on February 23 is next up.
"Of course I'm excited about the opportunity at Exeter, I felt that the time was right to move on and I'm looking forward to having that day-to-day interaction with players – they've put together a good side, they have great home support and it's a fantastic opportunity."
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Hunter has won 17 of his 22 matches at the helm, a win percentage of 77%, and added: "I've been extremely lucky to work with some great staff. The current Under 20 management team are excellent, and I've also worked with some outstanding players that are not only talented but most importantly wear the England shirt with pride. It's been pleasing to see some of those guys go on and play for the England Senior side and I'm sure that more will follow.
"The gap between the Under 20s and Seniors is smaller than ever before – as the likes of Owen Farrell, Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola have proven – some guys mature quicker than others, but it's good to see that players who have been developed in the National Academy come through and represent their country."
He added: "I have had a fantastic time with England, the likes of Kevin Bowring [head of professional coach development] and Nigel Redman [former professional coach development manager] have been instrumental in my time here – they gave me the opportunity and supported me throughout my time at the RFU.
"But likewise, working with likes of Rob Andrew, Stuart Lancaster, Graham Rowntree, Andy Farrell, Nick Walshe and Ian Peel has been incredibly important, having access to them and having the opportunity to share ideas has been great."
On the move to Exeter, Hunter said: "Not only do they have a great culture within, but the ambition of the club is huge. The club is looking to develop their ground and move forward on that front, but equally the coaches and players are hugely ambitious and they have assembled a quality squad with fantastic supporters."
RFU Professional Rugby Director Rob Andrew added: "I would like to thank Rob for his contribution to the Under 20 programme over the last four years. He has contributed significantly to the continued success of this very important programme.
"It has been one of our most successful areas for both player and coach development and we wish him every success. The relationship between club and country is vital in order to develop world class players, and so with this in mind we very much look forward to working with Rob in his new role."
Bowring added: "The RFU Professional Coach Development programme continues to add value to coaches and it is good to see another coach gain from his experience with the RFU and be offered an opportunity with a top Aviva Premiership club.
"Exeter Chiefs seem to be building success in a planned and focused way and Rob will, I am sure, contribute to the future success of the club. We thank him for his valuable contribution to our National Academy programme and wish him all the very best of luck at Exeter."