England’s Charlie Hodgson and Lee Mears retired from international rugby, while Andy Farrell returned to the coaching staff, the Rugby Football Union said.
Saracens fly-half Hodgson and Bath hooker Mears combined to make 80 appearances for England. The two met with coach Stuart Lancaster during England’s tour of South Africa earlier this month and all agreed the team needed to go with younger players in the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup on home soil.
“I had chats with both of them in South Africa and our thoughts were not too dissimilar -- that if we are building a team for 2015 then, just as we did in January, we have to decide on which players will take us forward and be in the mix in three years’ time,” Lancaster said in a statement.
Hodgson, 31, played 38 times for England, scoring a national record 44 points in his debut against Romania in 2001. He missed both the 2003 and 2007 World Cups with injury, but was part of the British and Irish Lions’ tour of New Zealand in
Mears, 33, had 42 England appearances since 2005, including at last year’s World Cup in New Zealand. He was selected for the Lions’ tour of South Africa in 2009.
Farrell rejoins the coaching staff on a 3 1/2-year contract, which will include the Rugby World Cup. He was part of Lancaster’s interim team for this year’s Six Nations championship, in which England came second. Lancaster has since been appointed full-time.
The 37-year-old Farrell joins from Saracens, who had released him for the earlier spell with England.
“I loved every minute of coaching England and working with Stuart and Graham Rowntree and this group of players in the Six Nations and to get the opportunity to do it permanently is a dream,” Farrell said in a statement. “I have watched England in South Africa and I am massively excited about the potential that was clearly evident.”
England lost two Tests in South Africa and drew the last one 14-14.