Booth welcomes Smith's return to Irish
March 9, 2012
Brian Smith and Toby Booth will be working alongside each other again at Irish © Getty Images
London Irish head coach Toby Booth has welcomed the return of Brian Smith who has re-joined the Aviva Premiership club as their director of rugby.
Smith held the same job at London Irish between 2005 and 2008 before leaving to become England's attack coach under Martin Johnson. Booth assumed the managerial responsibilities on top of his own duties but instigated Smith's return after a visit from former South Africa coach Jake White, acting as a consultant, questioned his work load.
Smith stood down from his England role after the World Cup and his return to the Exiles allows Booth, who instigated the appointment, to focus on the hands-on coaching role he relishes.
"When Brian left for England and I took over I said there was a potential shortfall there. We went with it but when Jake White came in we spoke about the same thing," Booth said. "He said 'I can't believe how much you have got to do. The work load is very high'. He also recommended we do not rely so heavily on the academy.
"Finally we have got to a situation where the coach is coaching and the manager is managing. It had to be Brian (as director of rugby) because of the relationship and the trust I have with him allows me to spend more time on the pitch. My expertise has been getting the best out of players and coaching. This is ultimately reverting back to the structure we had before."
London Irish have a significant rebuilding job ahead of them, with the departures of big-name players like Nick Kennedy and Delon Armitage this summer. Smith will oversee the London Irish recruitment, allowing Booth to focus on transforming their on-field fortunes after four consecutive Aviva Premiership defeats.
"This is all about trust. You have to trust the people are on the same wave-length on how the game should be played and you work as a team to get through the challenges," Booth said. "The best days at London Irish have been with Brian Smith and Toby Booth at the helm, together on separately.
"Brian still had an appetite for rugby in this country (after leaving England). He had a very positive experience with London Irish in the past and, on the whole, a positive experience with England. It didn't finish how he would have liked but he has got an opportunity to get back into the Premiership and go somewhere that has always seen him as part of the fixtures and furnishings."
Smith's return to rugby leaves 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," said Smith, who guided the club to a European Challenge Cup final and a Heineken Cup semi-final. "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."
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