Conor O’Shea to work alongside Eddie Jones in ‘wide-ranging’ RFU role

Conor O’Shea has been appointed director of performance rugby at the Rugby Football Union in a role that will see the former Italy and Harlequins coach work closely with England boss Eddie Jones.

O’Shea stepped down from the Azzurri job after the recent World Cup and will start his new post at Twickenham next year.

The 49-year-old will manage the England player, coaching and match officials pathways across men’s and women’s 15s and sevens programmes and will report to chief executive Bill Sweeney.

In a statement released on Friday, the RFU said that while the England team will remain the responsibility of Jones, O’Shea will operate alongside the Australian who is contracted until 2021.

The former Ireland wing previously worked at Twickenham as director of regional academies between 2005 and 2008 before joining the English Institute of Sport as national director for two years.

It has also been announced that professional rugby director Nigel Melville is leaving in order to “pursue new opportunities”.

“Conor comes here with existing knowledge of how we operate,” Sweeney said.

Conor O'Shea will work alongside Eddie Jones (pictured)
Conor O’Shea will work alongside Eddie Jones (pictured), Mike Egerton/pA

“He has a good, rounded balance of what it takes to be part of a high-performance system and he understands the world of the Premiership and the Six Nations.

“His principle focus will be rebuilding the performance pathway and the coach development side. It is a wide-ranging role.

“Conor knows Eddie Jones very well and will be able to integrate with what is happening at the highest level on the elite side of our game and making sure we have a seamless approach to player and coach development will be key.

“He will also work closely with Premiership Rugby and the clubs to make sure we have the right relationships with them.”

Conor O’Shea was Italy head coach at the World Cup
Conor O’Shea was Italy head coach at the World Cup (Nigel French/PA)

O’Shea, who was capped 35 times, was director of rugby at Harlequins before becoming Italy coach in 2016 and masterminded the club’s 2012 Premiership title.

“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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