Following the resignation of Rob Andrew from the position of Director of Professional Rugby it has been announced that USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville will join the RFU this summer to take his place.
Melville will be responsible for professional rugby in England for the RFU, with particular focus around managing relationship with Premiership Rugby, the English Qualified Player scheme, the EPS agreement and the academy system. He will also lead on the player development pathway for men and women and the sevens programmes.
He will take over the remits of Rob Andrew (Director of Professional Rugby) and Joe Lydon (Head of International Player Development) and will be a member of the Executive reporting to Ian Ritchie.
Ian Ritchie, CEO of the RFU said: “We are delighted to welcome Nigel to the RFU in what is an exciting time for England Rugby for both the men’s and women’s games. He will bring a great deal of expertise from not only his experiences from working in England but internationally at USA Rugby.”
Nigel Melville said: “I would like to thank USA Rugby for their support and I am very proud of what has been achieved in the organisation and the game in the US over the last decade. I feel I am leaving USA Rugby in a very strong place to continue the growth it has experienced in recent years and keep improving internationally.
“However, I am now hugely excited about this opportunity to join England Rugby in what is a very buoyant time. This year already the men have claimed the Grand Slam, the domestic game has continued to thrive, the U20s are looking to win the World Rugby U20 Junior World Championship in Manchester and the men and women will compete in the sevens competition at the Olympics in Rio for the first time ever.
“I am looking forward to helping bring further success to England teams.”
Rob Andrew added: “Having played with and known Nigel for a long time I believe that he is the best candidate to be appointed to take over the reins from me and I wish him well and I will support him in any way I can going forward.”
Melville, the former England international, has over 15 years professional rugby coaching experience and is in his 10th year leading USA Rugby, one of the fastest growing national governing bodies in the world.
He became Wasps’ first Director or Rugby in 1995 when rugby went professional and helped them win their first professional Premiership title in 1996, followed by three National Cup Final appearances, winning two. In 2002 he moved to Gloucester Rugby winning the National Championship Final, Powergen Cup and topped the Premiership table by a record 15 clear points.
He previously worked as a performance consultant for Reading FC during the 2005-06 season assisting them to win promotion into the Premier League.
A playing career saw him represent England 13 times and captain the national side on his debut as a scrum half in 1984 against Australia. Melville also played for the British and Irish Lions against New Zealand in 1983 and played domestically for Yorkshire, Otley, Headingley, Wakefield and Wasps.
During the 1980s he was head of UK Promotions for Nike and was Director of Rugby at Otley Rugby Club between 1990-95.
Rob Andrew, who will leave the role at the end of the current season, resigned from his position having instigated discussions with RFU CEO Ian Ritchie for a number of months, has agreed that he will continue to work on completing the latest agreement with Premiership Rugby that will run through till after the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Andrew, since joining the RFU in 2006, has made a major contribution to England Rugby and will leave the domestic game and England teams in excellent shape.
The former England international previously held roles including Rugby Operations Director and Elite Rugby Director at the RFU and led the negotiations that resulted in the existing eight-year Heads of Agreement deal between the RFU and Premiership Rugby.
In his current role he has overseen regional academies, medical, anti-doping, coaching development, referees, rugby events and competitions, rugby operations and the Greene King IPA Championship. He also sits on the Professional Game Board, European Professional Club Rugby Board and GB Sevens Executive Committee.
Following the announcement of Rob Andrew’s resignation he said: “After 10 years at the RFU and with the impending conclusion of the second Heads of Agreement, it feels like the right time to step down at the end of the season.
”My role has primarily been to set up a structure that would ultimately deliver long-term success to England through a pipeline of talented players coming through the academy system. Bringing together the clubs to support the new academy scheme required recognition from the RFU to reward them to bring on successful academy players and I believe we have achieved this.
“The staff and coaches who have delivered this at both club and England junior level are the unsung heroes and I would like to give them the thanks and recognition they deserve. The pipeline is going from strength-to-strength and I believe will deliver Eddie Jones and his coaches the world-class players that England need to ensure increasing success going forward.”
“The key to the relationship success between the clubs and the RFU has been the development of the academy system and desire by club and country to produce home grown players. The RFU now invests with the clubs significantly in the academy system and the England Qualified Player scheme. This has led to a progression of successful age grade teams with the U20s, in particular having reached six out of the last eight World Rugby U20 Championship finals and winning two of the last three.
“I hope and believe that I will leave a secure foundation to build a successful future and I will continue to give my support in any way I can to achieve this.”
Ian Ritchie, CEO of the RFU said: “We are obviously disappointed to see Rob leave the RFU after 10 years which has seen him bring about a great deal of positive change at the professional end of the game in England in that time.
“Improving the relationship between the RFU and the professional clubs has been very important for us and Rob has been instrumental in that process. His experience at the time was vital as a former England player and having spent 10 successful years developing the Newcastle Falcons following the game going professional in 1995.
“Since that time Rob has delivered an English solution to an English challenge and the strong relationship between the RFU and the professional clubs should provide the basis for sustained success over the course of the coming years.
“The sustained investment in the English system is now producing a stream of talented age grade players who have quickly progressed to the England senior team. Rob was the architect of this structural legacy and should be justifiably proud of his achievements.”
Reports courtesy of the RFU