Former Italy coach Conor O'Shea joins English RFU as Nigel Melville departs

Conor O'Shea left his role as Italy coach after the nation's pool-stage exit from this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan. Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

Former Italy coach Conor O'Shea will join the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) as director of performance rugby next year, it was announced on Friday, while director of professional rugby Nigel Melville said he will step down in December.

O'Shea left his role with Italy after the team's pool-stage exit from this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Irishman, who represented his nation as a player, coached Harlequins from 2010 until 2016, when he joined Italy.

Italy failed to win a single Six Nations match in O'Shea's three years in charge.

A statement released by the RFU read: "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, the 49 year-old will manage the England player, coaching and match officials pathways across men's and women's 15s and Sevens programmes."

O'Shea added: "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."

Meanwhile, Melville began his role with the RFU in 2016, and said on Friday: "I am proud of all that the organisation has achieved over the last three years during some challenging times.

"I believe that England Rugby is in a great place and that leaving after the 2019 Rugby World Cup is the right time as the RFU start a new era and prepare for the next Rugby World Cup cycle."