Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Who is David Nucifora?

Does Ireland have a new Performance Director and if so, why are other sources reporting it first?


License for photo : Some rights reserved by Craig Boyd

[Published 11:30am]

An interesting tweet from RTE’s Michael Corcoran floated across my timeline yesterday :

The link was to a story in The Australian, but you have to pay subs to read their online stuff so a few minutes later he tweeted another link for those who couldn't use that one, this time from RadioSportNZ.

This is to do with a position the IRFU advertised back in September, one which includes “management of the key coaching and technical support staff involved in the professional game including the National Team Coach, Provincial Head Coaches, High Performance Manager, Medical Director, Director of Fitness

Then by this morning ESPN have gotten hold of the story as well as the Irish Independent and what jumps out of these pieces more than anything else are the words “Nucifora, who was sacked from a similar role with the Australian Rugby Union in December

Naturally as Irish fans on reading these stories we would be drawn to learn a bit more about the man himself. 


As a player he was on the fringes of the Wallaby team, winning one cap and he was actually on the bench for that famous World Cup match at Lansdowne Road when Gordon Hamilton’s try brought us within a whisker of an historic victory in the quarterfinal.

Then he embarked on a coaching career, and his early years in Super Rugby were very similar to Joe Schmidt from a success standpoint.  He led the Brumbies to 3 successive finals before winning the 2004 title, defeating Robbie Deans’ Crusaders in the process.

Here is where his tale falls into the murky waters of the public relations swamp.  Let me be clear that I am merely passing on articles I have found through limited online research, and I am well aware that media organisations have different agendas and it is up to us to make our assumptions and/or choose if and how to delve further…

In 2004, supposedly after a “player revolt”, Nucifora was let go from his post at the Brumbies despite their being reigning champions.  He apparently spoke to A(ustralian)BC’s Kathleen Hyland about how the dismissal came as such a surprise to him.

His career path then takes him to Auckland where he teams up with the Blues, and of course it is here that he comes into contact with Joe Schmidt.   He joins them in this “high performance” role but eventually becomes head coach and apparently was even linked to succeed from Eddie O’Sullivan when he left in 2008.

He was also linked to the Wallaby job in 2007 which prompted an article in the Brisbane Times titled : “Nucifora, the untold story…

Then after a poor string of results he was let go from the Blues in 2009 (to be succeeded by Pat Lam, another Irish connection) and was soon appointed as manager of the ARU High Performance Unit, a role which included managing the national Under-20 side, and also meant he was effectively working under Robbie Deans, with whom he was vying for the Australia head coach’s job.

Now we reach December 2012.  This article claims he “left his role” - so did he jump or was he pushed, and either way, why? 

Skip ahead to May of this year, and he’s back with the ARU as a “consultant”, which brings us to the news that Michael Corcoran picked up on yesterday.


Look…I may have named this post “Who Is David Nucifora?” but the answer to that question is not necessarily what I am looking for (besides…I knew who he was!). 

I want to know why stories like this are still leaking out before the IRFU can get ahead of them. 

I’m no PR expert, but I’m pretty sure that even in this social media age it is possible to manage the news cycle in such a way that the message you want gets out in the right way at the right time.

This would not be the first time that IRFU dealings with the southern hemisphere have resulted in leaks, and if something isn’t done about it soon, it won’t be the last. JLP

Note - at time of publication of this post, the timestamp for the last mention of the name “Nucifora” on the IRFU website was Feb 9, 2012.

I will be sure to post any updates on this story as soon as I have them.


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019