Rugby Australia has announced the widely respected Peter Horne to head its revised high-performance department, in the role of Director of High-Performance Rugby.
In further positive news, Australian David Nucifora will return home from his position as High-Performance Director with Ireland later next year to take an advisory role with Rugby Australia.
Horne will join Rugby Australia in March after nearly 14 years working in high-performance for World Rugby, most recently as its Director of High-Performance.
Prior to his time at the global governing body, Horne was the General Manager at the Saracens club in the UK, and has also held high-performance positions with Samoa Rugby Union, Equestrian Federation of Australia, and Australian Canoeing.
The Australian will be tasked with leading all aspects of Australia’s high-performance Rugby, from the Wallabies, Wallaroos and Sevens programs to the alignment of Super Rugby clubs’ high-performance programs and pathway structures.
Horne’s remit will cover coaching, strength-and-conditioning, player development and will focus on setting the systems and structures that will create a successful future for Australian Rugby teams.
He joins following the appointment of Jo Yapp as Wallaroos coach, and Jaime Fernandez as National Women’s High-Performance Manager, strengthening Australian Women’s Rugby, and will be involved in the selection process for the next Wallabies head coach.
He will also be involved in the development of the new structure of the Wallabies staff, as well as the aligning of Super Rugby clubs to better prepare players for international duty when selected to represent their country.
Meanwhile, David Nucifora has had a decorated career in high-performance Rugby, most recently overseeing the high-performance restructure that saw Ireland become the number one men’s XVs nation in the world.
Nucifora will commence in this advisory capacity after he finishes his commitments to Irish Rugby post the Paris Olympics.
Peter Horne says he is honoured to be entrusted to play such a pivotal role as his home nation aims to deliver transformational change for a successful future.
“There are some really positive things going on in Australian Rugby,” said Horne.
“Our Women’s Sevens team has won the first two rounds of the world series, and the men’s team showed great progress over those first two weekends – it’s obviously a huge year for them with the Olympics in July.
“The Wallaroos finished the year on a high, finishing third in World Rugby’s WXV competition – they have made great strides, and RA is strengthening that program with a new full-time head coach and dedicated HP manager.
“We are seeing growth in participation at the community level – especially with women and girls, which shows the extent of the opportunity in Women’s Rugby.
“We have an opportunity to purpose-build a new Wallabies program from scratch.
“And there is universal agreement cross the Super Rugby clubs that the high-performance systems and pathways need a major overhaul to ensure everyone is pushing in the same direction; to deliver sustainable success for our Wallabies, Wallaroos and Sevens teams.
“To have this sort of agreement and understanding on the path forward is exciting and I look forward to working with the Australian Rugby community.”
Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh heralded the global high-performance experience arriving in Australian Rugby with the appointments of Horne and Nucifora.
“Peter has a great understanding of the way nations around the world have structured their high-performance programs, and he understands that it cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said.
“We need to build a more aligned system that is tailored to the nuances of the game here.
“Peter understands Australian Rugby, and he has a keen sense for what we need to do to get everyone working towards the same goals.
“Combine that understanding with strong expertise of high-performance environments and he is clearly the right person for the job all five Super Rugby clubs agree; they have all expressed their support for Peter’s appointment and enthusiasm at the prospect of working with him.
“Meanwhile David has well-regarded experience delivering a successful, aligned national high-performance Rugby structure with Ireland – whose results in recent years have shown the benefits of such a system.
“We have been clear that we do not want to copy systems from around the world – rather we want to take ideas and concepts from similar structures and apply them locally.
“We know Australian Rugby is quite unique in its structure, and we need to be conscious of that as we build something more fit-for-purpose, that delivers better performing Wallabies, Wallaroos, Sevens and Super Rugby teams.”
World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin said: “I would like to thank Peter for his immense contribution to World Rugby over the last 14 years, during which time the global competitiveness of the sport has increased significantly. His passion for helping performance unions and teams reach their potential in a highly competitive and dynamic environment is infectious and generates results, as evidenced in recent men’ and women’s Rugby World Cups.”
“Peter leaves World Rugby with the solid foundations, pathways and a talented team in place to underpin an exciting new era of opportunity and certainty in the sport with a new calendar, competitions and expanded Rugby World Cups set to open the door for more nations on the world stage.
“In moving to Rugby Australia, hosts of what promise to be spectacular men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups in in 2027 and 2029 respectively, our paths will remain close and we all wish Peter well as he begins an exciting new chapter in his career in March.”