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Rugby Union: Academy role for thrilled O'Shea.

London Irish managing director Conor O'Shea has been appointed director of regional academies by the Rugby Football Union.

O'Shea will oversee the network of 14 England regional academies and will lead the selection and monitoring of players capable of developing into future England internationals.

The former Ireland fullback will be assisted by David Shaw, who has been a key figure in establishing the regional academy system.

O'Shea said: 'I look on this move to Twickenham as a huge challenge and one I simply could not turn down. I have been fortunate enough to be a player, captain, director of rugby and most recently managing director of London Irish.

'I've enjoyed a lot of exciting times with my club and my country and am now keen to take on this new challenge.'

Wasps winger Josh Lewsey will be doing everything in his power to end Bristol's Powergen Cup hopes this weekend - but he is in full support of the Shoguns' bid to regain their Zurich Premiership status.

The English and European champions meet Richard Hill's side at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday.

Bristol have opened a fivepoint lead at the top of National One and their promotion challenge is backed by Lewsey, who played for the club while studying at the city's university.

'I'd love to see Bristol back in the Premiership. Its such a big rugby area and in my time down there when we put a few wins on the trot together we'd have a full house to play in front of,' he said. 'It's a rugby town like Gloucester and Bath and a sleeping giant.'

Newcastle prop Marius Hurter will leave the Falcons later this month to finish his career in South Africa.

Hurter, the former Springbok tight-head who joined Newcastle in 1998, wants to return home to further his law studies and his wife is expecting their first child.

The 34-year-old, who is available for the Falcons' next two games, flies home on December 30.

Seven North Midlands players have been selected to take part in the Midlands 16Group Schools final trial at Solihull School on Sunday (1pm).

Centre Andrew Robinson (Prince Henry's HS, Evesham) and lock Oliver Skyrme (Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School) will line up for Midlands A with full-back Michael Penn Bromsgrove School), fly-half George Crook (Bromsgrove School) and flanker Liam Herbert (Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School) in the B team. Winger Edward Jones (King's School, Worcester) and centre Ted Lang, of Old Swinford Hospital School, have been named as replacements.

Sunday's game is the final stage before a Midlands squad is named for the first of two Divisional Festivals at Castlecroft on January 7.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 17, 2004
Words:441
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