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Rowell was the coach of the England rugby team from 1995 to 1997. He took over from Geoff Cooke, announcing that England would give up the forward-dominated, risk-free strategies that had won so many Five Nations Championship titles in the past, instead adopting a 'running rugby' style. Rowell's England won twenty-one of their twenty-nine matches, including the 1995 World Cup quarter-final against Australia. In percentage terms of games won Rowell is England's most successful rugby union coach.
In 2002 he returned to Bath as director of rugby.
Rowell is Chairman of Celsis plc, Chairman of UK products Ltd which is quoted on AIM and Chairman of Turleigh Ltd, a private company.
He has acted as chairman of a number of companies in the public and private sectors, mainly in food. He was previously an executive director on the board of Dalgety plc with responsibility for the consumer foods division.
Rowell was awarded the OBE for services to the game of Rugby Union.