Former Bath and Toulon boss Mike Ford has emerged as an early contender to replace Jim Mallinder at Northampton.
Mallinder was sacked on Tuesday after a 10-year spell as director of rugby, with Alan Dickens in temporary charge.
The Saints hierarchy have started the search for a replacement for Mallinder and it is understood Ford is one of the initial names under consideration.
Ford is currently working in the United States, heading up the Dallas Griffins as they prepare for Major League Rugby.
However, it is believed the former England and Ireland defence coach may be available to the Saints on a short-term basis at first, with the Griffins’ entry into the MLR now delayed until 2019.
After spells as an assistant coach with the English and Irish national sides, Ford has coached at Newcastle and Bath in the English top flight, guiding the latter to the Premiership final in 2015.
The 52-year-old then coached French giants Toulon for six months from September 2016 before moving to the States earlier this year.
The former England head coach Stuart Lancaster has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the position at Franklin’s Gardens, but is believed to be settled at Leinster having signed a new contract in May.
Meanwhile, Worcester are continuing their search for a new director of rugby, with current incumbent Gary Gold leaving at the end of the season.
It is believed this position would be of interest to Mallinder, who is thought to be keen to return to coaching when the right opportunity arises.