Ireland confirm David Nucifora’s replacement and it’s not Rassie Erasmus

Jared Wright
David Nucifora and David Humphreys.

David Nucifora and David Humphreys.

The IRFU have today announced who will succeed David Nucifora as Ireland’s new Performance Director in 2024.

Former Ireland international fly-half David Humphreys has been appointed as Nucifora’s replacement and will officially take over in 2024.

Nucifora made the decision to depart his role at the end of the 2023/24 season, with the search for his replacement leading to many outlets linking Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus as well as former head coach Joe Schmidt.

However, the IRFU have gone a different route, hiring the ex-number ten for the important position.

“The search for the new Performance Director was led by Odgers Berndtson, the world leading global high performance search firm together with their network partners in Australia/Asia Pacific, Europe, South America, and the United States,” the statement confirming Humphreys’ appointment read.

“The IRFU interview panel included Ireland’s High Performance Expert, Gary Keegan, along with members of the IRFU senior leadership team. A shortlist of experienced candidates from around the world were identified, with a selected few being put through a rigorous selection process which included interviews and assessments.”

The IFRU state that Humphreys’ duties will include the delivery of integrated high-performance systems, world-class elite player development pathways, world-class coaching, world-class support, all delivering consistent and sustained performance by the National Teams through excellence and innovation.

He will also oversee a diverse team ranging from high-performance coaches, medical staff, referees, analytics, and player development alongside the operational running of the IRFU High Performance Centre on the Sport Ireland Campus.

David Humphreys’ CV

Humphreys enjoyed a stellar playing career for Province and country, representing Ireland on 72 occasions and scoring 560 points. He captained Ulster Rugby to the first Irish European Cup success in the 1998/99 season and won the Celtic Cup in 2004 and the Celtic League in 2005/2006.

Since retirement, he served as Director of Rugby for Ulster and spent six years in a similar role with Gloucester Rugby.

He worked with Georgia Rugby as a High-Performance Consultant and is currently the Director of Performance Operations with the England & Wales Cricket Board, which includes responsibility for central contracting.

A qualified solicitor, he was educated at Ballymena Academy, Queen’s University Belfast, and Oxford University.

Speaking about his appointment, David Humphreys added: “I was fortunate to have a wonderful playing career with Ireland, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to play a part in another chapter of Irish Rugby’s history. This role is the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition, and I look forward to building on the successful systems put in place by David Nucifora, who has been a driving force behind Irish Rugby for ten years.

“The chance now to further develop the pathways in the Men’s and Women’s game hugely excites me, and I am really looking forward to working with all the coaches, provinces, players, and backroom teams to ensure that Irish Rugby continues to go from strength to strength.”

He will join the IRFU in March of 2024, working alongside Nucifora, who will oversee the final preparations for the Paris Olympic games before Humphreys assumes full responsibility.

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