The IRFU are about to lose their long term Head of Technical Direction, Stephen Aboud, who tomorrow will be announced as part of a new team, headed by Conor O’Shea, to run Italian rugby.
’Shea’s proposed move to Italy from Harlequins has long been known but the departure of Aboud will leave a big hole on the rugby development side of the IRFU.
While O’Shea will be named as successor to Jacques Brunel with the Italy senior side, alongside assistant Mike Catt, and current forwards coach Giampero De Carli who is being retained, Aboud will take over the development side of the game there.
The Italian federation invested €4.5m two seasons ago in 32 Centres of Formation around the country, primarily for 16 year olds. They also ramped up their Academy structure at under 18 level, a tier above the new Centres of Formation, with nine in operation as of 2014.
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Aboud will take over the direction of those programmes. He was responsible for setting up the inititial IRFU Foundation in 1993, which was the forerunner of the Academy which subsequently was regionalised to the provinces.
For over 25 years Aboud has been at the heart of coach education and framing the player pathways in Irish rugby, and will bring a wealth of experience to his new role.
“I’ve no doubt he’ll bring a lot of added value to the job,” a union colleague of his says. “He’s a talented educator and his expertise will be badly missed. It will be interesting to see how they go about replacing him.”
The FIR are not expected to present their new management structure to the media until later in the season.