Former Carnegie Assistant coach Simon Middleton will join Stuart Lancaster and Jon Callard in the list of ex-Leeds coaches now in charge of their respective England national teams after being appointed as the England Womens Head Coach.

Lancaster and Callard are in charge of the England and England U20 side respectively and now Middleton will join them after succeeding Gary Street as the newly-created combined Head Coach role in which he will oversee both the England Women’s 15s and sevens programmes.

In a change to the previous structure, which saw the 15s and sevens programmes run by two different head coaches, Middleton will take overall responsibility allowing for greater alignment between both national women’s performance programmes.

Middleton, who is the current England Women’s Sevens Head Coach, will be assisted in this role by three coaches across the 15-a-side and sevens programmes who will report directly into him.

The RFU have now opened the recruitment process for a 15s lead coach, who will work in conjunction with Middleton to set the technical and tactical direction of the 15s programme and lead on the delivery of the programme, and a 15s assistant coach. 

Former England scrum half Susie Appleby will stay on in her consultancy role as England Sevens Assistant Coach.

A former Leeds Carnegie player and coach, Middleton joined the RFU in February 2014. The 48 year-old coached Leeds Carnegie from 2000-2011, working alongside Stuart Lancaster, Neil Back and John Callard. 

During his tenure he helped Leeds reach the Premiership in 2001 and 2006 and secure Heineken Cup qualification in the 2002/3 season. As well as running the England Women’s Sevens programme, Middleton was the backs coach at the 2014 Rugby World Cup.

RFU Head of Performance for Women Nicola Ponsford said: “We have reviewed the structure for the women’s programme, and with the focus on getting the best from both 15s and sevens, we have recognised the need to appoint a Head Coach who sits across both of our international programmes. This appointment will ensure full integration across the Elite Playing Squad.

“This role is a natural progression for Simon, who is already fully immersed in the 15s and sevens programmes through his current role and by working at the 2010 and 2014 Rugby World Cups, and has done a fantastic job. 

“In his new role as Head Coach, he will be supported by a sevens assistant coach and two new coaches we are recruiting into the 15s programme. They will report directly into Simon.

“This is a really exciting move to strengthen the overall performance programme and it will ensure we get the best out of the players with a long-term view of their development.”

Middleton added: “I am coming into this role when women’s rugby is in a great place. It is a really exciting time to be involved. For me personally, this is a fantastic opportunity and a challenge I am really looking forward to.

“Being part of the team that won the World Cup last year was the pinnacle of my career but we want England Rugby to continue to have those successes. 

“I am sure these new coaching roles will attract some great calibre candidates and by integrating the 15s and sevens programmes more closely it will be critical to us achieving our goals.”

Middleton is on a fixed term contract that will run until the end of 2017 and will take up this post following the conclusion of the Sevens World Series in May.