MARLBOROUGH RFC have enlisted some world-class help to build upon the most successful season in their history after announcing Elisi Vunipola as their new director of coaching.

Vunipola, who is the uncle of Saracens, England and British & Irish Lions forwards Mako and Billy Vunipola, joins The Common club after previously coaching Somerset side Burnham RFC to consecutive promotions into Western Counties West.

The 52-times capped Tonga international fly-half, who turns 45, next month played in two Rugby World Cups in South Africa in 1995 and England in 1999, while enjoying a distinguished Super Rugby career in the southern hemisphere for ACT Brumbies and stints at Sanyo Electric in Jampa and Bay of Plenty in New Zealand.

After making his international debut against Pacific rivals Fiji in 1990, he went on to make 41 appearances for his country over a 15-year period, scoring 50 points, his final cap coming in 2005 against France in Toulouse.

Vunipola will be responsible for coaching across the club, supporting existing coaches for all age groups and players and steps into the role, following the departure of former Northampton and Exeter prop forward Chris Budgen, who moved on from Marlborough after a stint as player-coach in mid-season.

Within his brief will be an attempt to follow up Marlborough’s successful Southern Counties South campaign, in which they finished a best-ever fifth this season.

Marlborough started the 2016-17 campaign with nine straight wins to lead the standings early on and, despite a mid-season slip in which they lost five of their next six, they finished strongly with seven straight wins to end just three points shy of a promotion play-off place.

The second team, the Alfred’s Nomads, were also promoted from Dorset & Wilts Three North.

Marlborough chairman Gary Sharp said: “We have been looking for a new director of rugby for a little while to take us to the next stage of our plans.

“We have been using our network and some of our players know Elisi and suggested we talked.

“Elisi has had a very successful career as a player and a coach. This has given him exposure to some of the world’s leading coaches, including England’s Eddie Jones.

“Elisi is a Level Two RFU coach and has a lot of experience coaching not only senior players, but also young players including those playing tag rugby.

“He will be responsible for coaching across the club, supporting existing coaches and ensuring high standards for all age groups and players at the club.

“We wanted to bring someone in who could develop players at every age group and level and make playing rugby at Marlborough exciting and attractive for players and supporters.

“We are ambitious and want to be promoted but we are also a family club that is a great place for people around Marlborough to socialise and where they can enjoy watching and playing rugby.’’