Nigel Melville has been appointed to two key roles with Premiership Rugby and given the job of changing the image of the umbrella organisation for English rugby’s top clubs.

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Melville stepped down as the Rugby Football Union’s director of professional rugby a year ago which gives him a unique insight into the problems the game faces across England and the role the governing body is equipped to play given the financial problems caused by the pandemic. He has been handed the job of chairing the PRL investor’s board which includes all of the clubs and also the key Rugby Committee.

It is understood his role will see current PRL chief executive Darren Childs concentrate on the commercial side of the organisation having been widely criticised for his low profile as the game wrestled with numerous problems during the pandemic, seemingly oblivious to the negative publicity he was attracting.

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Melville will now use his experience to influence PRL’s stance on key issues including handling the Professional Game Agreement with the RFU. Melville’s in-tray will include the implications of legal action being taken by former players affected by concussion and the question of ring-fencing the Premiership once Saracens return to the top flight of the English game following their relegation to the Championship for salary breaches.

This is the second time PRL have opted to bring in former top RFU employees having appointed former RFU CEO Ian Ritchie as chairman in 2018.

Melville, 59, joined the governing body in July 2016 to replace Rob Andrew, and acted as the RFU’s interim chief executive in the first half of 2019, ahead of Bill Sweeney’s arrival as CEO in May.

Melville, the former Wasps and Gloucester director of rugby, was appointed CEO and President of Rugby Operations for USA Rugby in October 2006 and stepped down from his position in June 2016 to take up the RFU role.

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Melville became the youngest player to captain England on his début when he led them against Australia in November 1984 and won 13 caps, played on the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 1983 before serious injury ended his playing career at the age of just 27.

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