Newcastle Falcons can confirm that John Wells is leaving the club to take up a new challenge in Italy.
The former Leicester Tigers and England coach joined the Falcons in 2012, serving as forwards coach, head coach and most recently defence coach during his time at Kingston Park Stadium.
A long-time Leicester flanker during his playing days, he will now take up a new position as defence coach at Italian club, Rugby Colorno.
Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: "John has made an outstanding contribution to the club over the past eight years, and leaves with our sincere thanks and best wishes.
"Defence has been one of the cornerstones of our return to the Gallagher Premiership, and the foundations that John has helped to lay will stand us in good stead for when rugby eventually resumes.
"I have been closely associated with John in one form or another for well over 30 years, both as a player and coach, and I know he will make a success of his new challenge over in Italy."
Looking back on his time with Newcastle, Wells said: “I have had eight fantastic seasons at the Falcons.
“It has been a vibrant and challenging few years with some very memorable performances - most notably at my old club Leicester, which saw us qualify for 2017/18 Premiership play-offs. We became only the second team to beat Toulon at home in the Champions Cup a year later, and most recently over in Jersey in February we produced an almost-perfect team performance in atrocious conditions.”
Having helped steer the Falcons back into the Premiership before embarking on his new challenge in Italy, Wells said: “Promotion has had to be respected, but in the circumstances has not really been celebrated. The team was unbeaten and playing some outstanding rugby prior to the premature end to the campaign, and we could not have asked for much more.
“I would like to thank Dean, Dave and the rest of the coaches, strength and conditioning staff and medical team for their help and support during my time with the club. I also thank the players for all of their hard work, commitment, enthusiasm and bravery, and I wish the Falcons every success in the Premiership."
Now set to embrace a new opportunity, Wells explained: “I’ve been coaching in the Premiership or at international level now for over 22 years and I wanted an opportunity to do something a little different, so I am going to join up with Nick Scott, Stefano Cantoni and Christian Prestera at Rugby Colorno in Italy.
“Nick and I played together in the same Newark team way back in 1981, and have kept in touch. Nick took on the director of rugby role a couple of seasons ago and got Colorno promoted to Italy’s Top 12 in his first season - they are a very ambitious club with a huge community game and I will be helping to coach the first team, U18, U16 and women’s squads.”