The Rugby Football Union made a key announcement on Friday that former Italy head coach Conor O’Shea will become the director of performance rugby in 2020. 


The development came as former England international Nigel Melville announced he will leave his post as director of professional rugby, which he has held since July 2016. 

There has been a positive reaction to this announcement so far, as many English fans and professionals remember the fine job the 49-year-old O’Shea did during his six years as director of rugby at Harlequins. 

He led Quins to the Challenge Cup in 2011 before winning the Premiership the season after, establishing the London side as a force in English rugby. 

O’Shea has always been recognised for the system he established at Harlequins and the progress that many of his players made.


Not only did he see some of his players become internationals during his tenure, he helped those that were on the periphery of the England squad became regulars, particularly Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown. 


However, some fans have questioned O’Shea’s most recent spell with Italy, which started in 2016 and ended after the recent World Cup. 

Italy failed to win a Six Nations match during the three tournaments that the Irishman presided over, and only managed one win against a tier one side during his tenure, albeit against the Springboks. 

Not only have some fans highlighted this, they have queried why this is seemingly overlooked by the majority of people.

The former Ireland international’s role with the RFU will be different from his one with Italy, however, as he will manage and strategise the progress of professional rugby in England, which includes the men’s, women’s and sevens teams. 

While the results may have not materialised with Italy, O’Shea can undeniably be credited with changing the way in which the team play, and helping bring through a number of promising young players. The resources that he will have with the RFU will be incomparable to what he had in Italy as well. 

Eddie Jones is still the head coach of England and although O’Shea will work alongside him, his job is different and it is clear that he has earned the respect of much of England. 

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