USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville will join the RFU this summer as Director of Professional Rugby.
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.