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Harlequins appoint Conor O'Shea as director of rugby

Conor O'Shea
O'Shea was capped 35 times by Ireland

Harlequins have confirmed the appointment of Conor O'Shea as their new director of rugby.

The 39-year-old, formerly a director of rugby with London Irish who has also worked for the Rugby Football Union, is something of a surprise choice.

He has been out of the sport for the past 18 months, working for the English Institute of Sport.

Dean Richards resigned from the post in August as details emerged of his role in the fake blood scandal.

Quins also considered former Wasps and British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan, former Scotland coach Frank Hadden, South Africa assistant coach Gary Gold and Quins assistant coach Tony Diprose.

Plain and simply, my passion lies with rugby and my desire to influence at the sharp end of the game has never diminished

Conor O'Shea

But they have opted for the former Ireland full-back, who is a highly respected figure in the game despite his recent absence.

And O'Shea admitted the chance of working in top-flight rugby union again was an opportunity too good to turn down.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the EIS and it is a shame that I will be moving on at such an exciting and challenging time for the organisation and for sport in this country," said O'Shea.

"But, plain and simply, my passion lies with rugby and my desire to influence at the sharp end of the game has never diminished.

"So, when approached by Harlequins, a club with an exciting squad, a committed and talented group of coaches and support staff and a stable business model to underpin long-term success, I knew it was a challenge I had to take on."

O'Shea retired as a player in 2000 before joining the coaching staff at London Irish. He led London Irish to the Powergen Cup in 2002 and then took up a role with the RFU as director of regional academies before joining the EIS in 2008.

The "Bloodgate" scandal which led to Richards's downfall occurred when Quins winger Tom Williams was ordered to feign injury in the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster on 12 April by chewing a fake blood capsule, thus allowing goal-kicker Nick Evans to return to the field.


Williams later had his lip cut in an attempt to make the injury appear genuine.

Richards and physio Steph Brennan were initially cleared of any wrongdoing at a disciplinary hearing in July but were heavily punished by a subsequent appeals committee in August.

Former England number eight Richards was banned from coaching worldwide and chief executive Mark Evans initially said the club were undecided as to whether they would replace him.

But the club went with O'Shea and and Evans is delighted to have secured the services of the 39-year-old.

"He combines international playing experience with a proven managerial track record in rugby and elsewhere," said Evans.

"We are very confident he has the skill-set we were looking for and will dovetail extremely well with our current playing and management staff."

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see also
Richards ban savage, says lawyer
06 Sep 09 |  Rugby Union
Best support for Richards return
03 Sep 09 |  Rugby Union
Richards hit by damning judgement
02 Sep 09 |  Harlequins
Richards banned for three years
17 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins sorry for fake injury saga
12 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards resigns Harlequins post
08 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins stunned by fake injury fine
20 Jul 09 |  Harlequins
Harlequins 5-6 Leinster
12 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union

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