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One in, one out at the RFU this morning

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.

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“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.”

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