Aviva Premiership
Smith returns to London Irish
ESPNscrum Staff
March 8, 2012
England backs coach Brian Smith looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between Italy and England at Stadio Flaminio, Rome, February 14, 2010
Brian Smith left his role with England after the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images

Former England attack coach Brian Smith has rejoined London Irish as director of rugby, the Aviva Premiership club have confirmed.

Smith previously held the position between 2005 and 2008 before leaving the Exiles to join Martin Johnson's England management team. Toby Booth remains as London Irish head coach.

Smith stood down from his England post after the failed World Cup campaign and his coaching was criticised by some unnamed players in the leaked post-tournament review. But Smith is credited with laying the foundations for London Irish's most successful years during his previous stint at the club.

Smith took London Irish to a European Challenge Cup final and a Heineken Cup semi-final, against Toulouse, before Booth took over. Irish went on to reach the Premiership final and qualify for the Heineken Cup on three successive occasions but this season they are struggling. The Exiles have lost their last four Aviva Premiership matches and Smith returns to the helm of a side currently ninth in the table.

London Irish chief executive Andy Martin said: "We have made great strides over the past couple of years to make this club successful both on and off the field by building a team which has a good mix of experience and raw talent.

"We are delighted therefore that Brian will be returning. He is a top-class manager with a proven track record of success both at club and international level.

"We believe that his experience will help to strengthen our current resources and will be the boost we need to get back on track this season and beyond. There is no doubt that it has been a tough few weeks, something that we are all feeling."

Smith's return to rugby leaves Martin Johnson as the only member of England's World Cup management team without a position. John Wells and Mike Ford have joined Gary Gold's coaching team at Newcastle while Graham Rowntree has remained part of the England set-up under interim boss Stuart Lancaster.

"I am delighted to be returning to London Irish," Smith said. "Toby and I have always had a great relationship and that brought with it a lot of success on field in my time at the club and I know that we're destined for even greater things.

"We're building a new squad with fantastic potential and if we all pull together we can really make things happen."

London Irish have already confirmed the departures of Nick Kennedy and Guy Armitage to Toulon, with England full-back Delon Armitage set to follow in the summer.

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