October 3, 2023

Why New Zealand Rugby need to hear the story of David Nucifora

Why New Zealand Rugby need to hear the story of David Nucifora

New Zealand Rugby’s plans to announce the All Blacks coach for beyond 2023 prior to the World Cup has been met by some fierce opposition, with many labelling the move disrespectful to current coach Ian Foster if he was to be replaced while others question how it would impact the focus on the World Cup itself.

The idea of naming a coach’s successor while the incumbent holds office is not new in the sport of rugby, although it is new to the All Blacks.

One example of the system backfiring is the story of David Nucifora, an Australian coach who now resides within Ireland Rugby as Performance Director and has contributed mightily to the world No 1 team’s success.

The Platform‘s Martin Devlin interviewed Greg Martin and the two pundits were remarking on how New Zealand Rugby continues to make a shambles of their management of the All Blacks’ coaching saga when they switched their attention to Ireland and the incredible performance they put in against France last weekend.

“Do you guys know who runs Irish rugby?” Martin asked. “You know, the coaching, the head of the coaching structure.

“It’s a former Auckland coach, David Nucifora, remember him? He coaches the Brumbies in 2004, he’s one of my best mates so I do know the story well.

“He coached the Brumbies and he ended up winning the Championship that year but he had already been told, like Ian Foster, that he was going to get sacked, they won the Championship because of player power. One of his jobs was to move a few of the old Brumbies on, so he moved them on and they all got dirty and ganged up against him and it’s always easier to sack the coach than it is the players.

“Before he went to Auckland and coached you guys, he won a Super Rugby Championship and got sacked. And now, where did he go? Because then he worked in Australia in high performance, someone got rid of him there, then he went to Ireland and he’s been the engineer and the architect of everything that’s happened in Irish rugby.

“You’ve seen those Sevens teams? The girls are outstanding, their blokes are good and their 15’s-a-side team are magnificent, they’re No 1 in the world because of an Aussie that we p*issed off, they got rid of him and now he’s designing everything that goes on in Irish rugby, it’s incredible.”

While there is widespread pessimism around the All Blacks’ World Cup odds in 2023 compared to previous tournaments, you can never write the men in black off and if Ian Foster’s side were to win the Webb Ellis after a replacement had been named, it sure would make for one of the most eye-rolling moments in the modern era.

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