Rugby Australia is nearing a deal with New Zealand’s Joe Schmidt to become the new coach of the Wallabies, following a failed attempt with Eddie Jones.
Renowned rugby coach Kiwi Joe Schmidt is emerging as a top contender following the announcement by Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh that a new Wallabies coach will be named by March.
Waugh stated that RA will increase efforts in finding a replacement for Eddie Jones after the announcement on Friday of Peter Horne being selected as the new director of high performance, despite his lack of experience.
David Nucifora, the previous coach of the Brumbies, will be rejoining the governing body in an advisory capacity. Despite still serving as Ireland’s high-performance director until after the Paris Olympics, he will likely have a role in the selection process for the Wallabies.
“We plan to enter the market next week by expressing our interest, and our goal is to secure an appointment during the first quarter of 2024, especially since the Welsh will be here in July,” Waugh stated.
“We are aware that time is limited, but it is crucial to properly execute this process.”
“We are embarking on a journey, the beginning of an exciting path for the game in Australia. It is crucial that we remain disciplined and follow the appropriate process to bring the most qualified individuals into our organization.”
Former assistants of the Wallabies, Stephen Larkham and Dan McKellar, along with Michael Cheika, who led Australia to the 2015 World Cup final and recently resigned as Argentina’s coach, were top contenders for the position.
However, it is known that RA has been actively pursuing Schmidt. He previously led Ireland to the top of the international rankings and was recruited by New Zealand to assist in their journey to the final of the 2019 World Cup in France.
According to reports, Schmidt has been hesitant to become a part of the Wallabies team due to their continual decline, which resulted in Australia failing to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time.
However, it seems that Nucifora was also in this situation before being convinced by RA to return home.
RA is looking to complete their team with Nucifora, Schmidt, and Horne, who have a strong working relationship from their time in the northern hemisphere. They are hoping to secure the final addition to the puzzle to lead the Wallabies towards the 2025 home series against the British and Irish Lions and the 2027 World Cup in Australia.
On Friday, Waugh was asked if the next Wallabies coach would be appointed for a four-year term, and his response seemed to indicate that this would be the case.
“The success would rely on the applicants being receptive to what will bring immediate results, as well as understanding how to maintain long-term success,” he stated.
In the past, we have been focused on the World Cup. This cycle often leads to success, as seen with Ireland’s accomplishments.
“They have not been able to advance past the quarter-finals in a World Cup, but they have consistently won at the provincial and Test-match level. This has resulted in increased interest and involvement from spectators, fans, and the community.”
“I am highly motivated to develop successful Wallabies and Wallaroos teams. The sevens teams, for both men and women, are currently heading in the right direction.”
The key factor is maintaining a consistent record of winning instead of experiencing a temporary boost from a single successful World Cup and then declining afterwards.
Waugh mentioned that it was notable that the next coach for the Wallabies did not necessarily have to be from Australia.
“We require a top-quality coach to guide our system and culture,” he stated. “Our strength in sports comes from being Australian, therefore it is crucial to instill the values and mindset of our country in the team.”
“However, an individual can be taught by a coach who is not from Australia.”
Although he will assist Waugh in recruiting a coach for the Wallabies, Horne will officially become a part of RA in March. He has spent nearly 14 years in high performance roles for World Rugby, as well as working with UK club Saracens, Samoan rugby, and Equestrian Australia.
Horne will oversee the consolidation of Super Rugby high-performance systems, as well as the integration of the men’s and women’s national senior programs and youth pathways within RA.
Nucifora, who left the Australian rugby high-performance program in 2013 after being unable to implement change, will come back in August.