According to an exclusive report from the Guardian, the RFU has appointed departing Italy coach Conor O’Shea.
The former Harlequins head coach is to take up a senior position in their professional rugby department.
“This is a big statement of intent by Bill Sweeney,” revealed a senior source.
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“Conor has done brilliant work in developing the game in Italy over the last four years and also comes with a great reputation from his time working in the Premiership.
“He knows the Premiership inside out and that knowledge will be important in overseeing the development of the next generation of players in the next four years.
“It is significant that the RFU have been able to attract an international head coach to such an important position in the organisation.
“It is the first major piece of the jigsaw in rebuilding the elite pathway structure.”