Conor O'Shea joins RFU as Nigel Melville steps down
By Keith Moore
Last Updated: 29/11/19 9:05am
Conor O'Shea will join the RFU as director of performance to replace Nigel Melville, who leaves his position as director of professional rugby.
Melville will depart next month to "pursue other opportunities", while O'Shea, who resigned as Italy coach earlier this month, takes up his role next year.
In a statement issued on Friday, the RFU said O'Shea will be "responsible for the leadership, management and strategic direction of the professional game in England.
"With the aim to support long-term sustainable success at international level, [he] will manage the England players, coaching and match officials pathways across men's and women's 15s and Sevens programmes."
Reporting to CEO Bill Sweeney, O'Shea will also oversee performance rugby operations, which include the management around the Professional Game Agreement, Greene King IPA Championship, Tyrrells Premier 15s, Rugby Players Association, medical governance and player welfare, sports science, anti-doping and competition frameworks.
"I've spent the last four years in Italy, six years at Harlequins and before that 10 years at London Irish, so I feel I know the system pretty well," O'Shea said.
"The good times, the bad times, winning things and being competitive, so I can relate to the people and challenges that happen within our system. I have learned a huge amount internationally in the last few years as well.
"There is an exciting vision at the RFU. It is not just about winning tomorrow, but also about sustaining success and winning long into the future.
"We can really look forward to rejuvenating and re-energising the performance pathway to help, support and push England rugby on.
"As well as our relationships with all stakeholders, it's about women's rugby, sevens, referees and coach development, which is absolutely fundamental."
The 49-year-old will work closely with England men's head coach Eddie Jones, however the England team remains the responsibility of Jones who will continue to report directly to Sweeney.
Melville, who acted as interim CEO in the first half of 2019 ahead of the arrival of Sweeney in May, leaves the RFU after three and a half years at the helm.
"I am proud of all that the organisation has achieved over the last three years during some challenging times," said Melville.
"I believe that England Rugby is in a great place and that leaving after the 2019 Rugby World Cup is the right time as the RFU start a new era and prepare for the next Rugby World Cup cycle."
Sweeney said: "On behalf of everyone at the RFU, I would like to thank Nigel for his valuable contribution to the organisation and to England Rugby.
"His professionalism and knowledge of rugby and sport is outstanding and he will be missed. In particular, I am grateful for the support that he has given to me since I joined. He leaves with our very best wishes for the future."