In a widely expected move, the IRFU yesterday confirmed the appointment of McNaughton, who has been team manager at Leinster since 2004.
The appointment is the first to the new Ireland management team since Declan Kidney was unveiled as coach a fortnight ago.
Like Kidney, McNaughton will take up his position after Saturday’s Heineken Cup final, but will not be involved in the preparation for the upcoming Barbarians game or the summer tour to Australia and New Zealand.
McNaughton, who has signed a three-and-a-half year contract taking him up to and including the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, said he was looking forward to his new brief.
“I can echo (Declan Kidney’s) sentiments by saying that there is no greater honour than working with your own national team and while certainly there are challenges ahead for all of us, there is also a certain amount of anticipation about the possibilities that exist for Irish rugby and this squad,” he said.
“Declan’s focus will remain totally on the Munster team for the next number of weeks.
“And, following this, we will be setting about putting in place the structures around the team ahead of the Autumn internationals, which gives us a certain amount of latitude to do that.”
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said McNaughton brings a “wealth of international experience” to the role.
“He has a reputation that is held in the highest regard throughout the rugby and business communities,” he said.
Kidney has worked with McNaughton before — the duo having been on the same management ticket in Leinster in 2004.
McNaughton won the first of his 15 Irish caps against Scotland in 1978, having won Munster Schools Cups at junior and senior level while attending Rockwell College.
He had a distinguished career at Wanderers and Greystones, serving as player, captain, coach and president at the latter.
Off the field, he studied economics at Trinity College Dublin, and spent 30 years working in the financial services sector.
Despite leaving the profession in a full-time capacity in 2004 to concentrate on rugby duties, McNaughton currently acts as a consultant and holds a number of non-executive directorships in IFSC investment companies.
Meanwhile, Ulster have signed Queensland Reds pair Clinton Schifcofske and Ed O’Donoghue on two-year contracts.
Schifcofske, 32, is a goal-kicking wing or full-back who spent 10 years playing rugby league before switching codes and signing for the Reds in 2006.
Ulster beat off strong competition to sign Schifcofske, an Australia A international, who had reportedly attracted offers from two NRL clubs keen for him to return to rugby league.
O’Donoghue, a 25-year-old lock, was born in London but raised in Brisbane.
He played for the Australia Under-19s before enjoying stints with Northampton and Worcester.
He made 13 appearances for the Reds in last year’s Super 14 and joins Ulster as a replacement for Justin Harrison, who has left Ravenhill for Bath.
Tommy Bowe, Neil Best, Roger Wilson, Mark Bartholomeusz and Kieran Campbell are also leaving Ulster this summer.