Former Ireland international Conor O’Shea will take control of the Italian national team from June after he announced earlier this year that he would leave his position as Director of Rugby at Harlequins. The Italian Rugby Federation announced today that O’Shea would replace current coach Jacques Brunel on a four-year contract. The 45 year old has had a successful spell in charge of Harlequins leading them to the Aviva Premiership title in 2012 he also managed the Quins to success in the European Challenge Cup and the LV Cup.
Since his announcement in January he has been linked to the Italian job so today’s announcement is no real surprise. His first task when taking the reigns will be to oversee the Italian’s summer tour to Argentina, the United States and Canada. The Azzurri finished bottom of the RBS 6 Nations Championship for an 11th time in 17 seasons. They conceded 224 points and 29 tries in five games, while their final two fixtures against Ireland and Wales saw them beaten 58-15 and 67-14, respectively.
In a statement posted on the Italian Federation and Harlequins websites, O’Shea said: “As I said when I announced that I would be leaving, I feel the end of this season is the right time for me to take on a new challenge.
“And I am honoured, humbled and excited that I will be working with everyone in Italian rugby to ensure they can achieve on the undoubted potential they have as a rugby nation.”
Harlequins are yet to announce O’Shea’s replacement but will do so “in due course.” O’Shea faces a huge test in making this Italian side competitive however impressive performances by the Azzurri against France and Scotland in this years 6 Nations might give the Irishman a glimmer of hope. He will remain with Harlequins for the rest of the season before taking the Italian coaching role in June.