Farrell rejoining England set-up
Andy Farrell has completed his England u-turn by agreeing a deal to re-join Stuart Lancaster's coaching team until after the 2015 World Cup.
Farrell was part of the interim coaching set-up, with Lancaster and Graham Rowntree, which guided England from the wreckage of their World Cup campaign to second place in the RBS 6 Nations championship.
Lancaster wanted to make the appointment permanent once he got the full-time job but Farrell initially decided his coaching future lay with Saracens, where he still had two years left on a contract.
But Farrell had a change of heart at the end of the Aviva Premiership season and resigned from his position as Saracens head coach, opening the way for his return to the England fold.
With England's South Africa tour now out of the way, the Rugby Football Union today confirmed Farrell had agreed a deal to coach England's backs and defence through to January 31, 2016.
"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.
"I have watched England in South Africa and I am massively excited about the potential that was clearly evident in the three Tests and midweek matches.
"I had seven very special years with Saracens and the club will always have a fond place in my heart. I am grateful for the help they have given me as a player and a coach and I wish everyone involved the best in the future."
When Farrell initially turned England down, Lancaster flew to Durban to meet with New Zealand's World Cup-winning coach Wayne Smith only to be knocked back for a second time.
Mike Catt was appointed in a temporary coaching role for the summer tour and could still be added to an expanded senior management group, although any decision on that will be taken after the review process is complete.
If Catt is retained, he may well oversee the attack side of England's game with Farrell's job description altered to focus more specifically on defence.
Saracens have agreed not to hold Farrell to his contracted six-month notice period. During their previous discussions with Saracens, the RFU had offered the club £60,000 to cover Farrell's notice period.
"I am delighted that we have got Andy on board. He is a special coach and an individual and the way this team has developed is a testament to the foundations that we laid in the Six Nations," Lancaster said.
"Andy, Graham and myself work well together and I am looking forward to carrying on that close relationship over the next three-and-a-half years as we build towards a home World Cup.
"I will continue to review the make-up of the coaching team over the next few weeks to ensure that England has the best structure and personnel."
Farrell will take up his post on July 2, three days before England name their elite squad for the new season - a squad that will no longer include the Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson and Bath hooker Lee Mears.
Both players announced their international retirement today after being told by Lancaster they were not in his plans for the autumn QBE internationals.
Leicester hooker Tom Youngs broke onto the England scene in South Africa while fellow Tiger George Ford and Bath's Tom Heathcote offer Lancaster exciting fly-half options through to 2015.
Hodgson won 38 England caps over an 11-year international career while Mears represented his country on 41 occasions and he made one Test appearance for the British and Irish Lions, against South Africa in 2009.
"Both Charlie and Lee have been outstanding senior players in the last six months and I cannot thank them enough for the support they have given me and this young squad as we move forward," Lancaster said.
"With 80 caps between them they have a vast amount of experience and that has been invaluable.
"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."
Hodgson, 31, made his debut against Romania when he scored a national record 44 points but his international career never ran smoothly, with knee reconstruction operations costing him a place at both the 2003 and the 2007 Rugby World Cups.
One of England's most naturally gifted playmakers, Hodgson boasts an astute kicking game and a rare ability to play close to the line. He shone as part of the 2005 British and Irish Lions midweek team but the presence of Jonny Wilkinson meant he was often cast in the role of understudy.
Hodgson was dropped in 2008 after his defence was exposed by New Zealand but he returned to the England set-up last summer and began the Six Nations as Lancaster's first-choice fly-half, scoring charge-down tries in closely-fought victories over Scotland and Italy.
Owen Farrell and, more recently, Toby Flood have overtaken him and although Hodgson said he would never retire from international duty, the former Sale Shark has clearly sensed the writing is on the wall.
"I have been very proud to represent England over the last 11 years. Wearing the shirt has always been the highest honour for me, not least in the last six months, and no-one would want to give that up," Hodgson said.
Mears established himself as England's first choice hooker in 2008 with a run of form that saw him start the first Lions Test against the Springboks in 2009.
"The memories of playing international rugby will live with me forever," he said.