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IRFU reveals their new Performance Director

SPOTLIGHT: The IRFU is pleased to announce that former Ireland international David Humphreys has been appointed to the role of Performance Director, succeeding David Nucifora who has made the decision to depart at the end of this season.


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 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.

Speaking about the recruitment, IRFU CEO Kevin Potts says: “In David Humphreys, we know we have found someone who believes passionately in Irish Rugby and has the expertise, skills, and desire to keep us competitive on the world stage. Our search took us globally and ultimately David was the stand-out candidate.

“David’s journey from a schools player to representing his province and then to the national game ideally places him to understand the needs of the player. His local knowledge and 30 years’ experience of elite rugby and immersion in high performance, previously with Cricket Ireland’s High Performance Committee and now his current role with the England & Wales Cricket Board, will bring about enormous benefits and we are excited for the next stage in our evolution.

“David’s observations about the development of the system over the last decade showed a deep understanding and I was enthused by his energy and vision for rugby in Ireland and cannot wait to see him bring it to life.

“I would like to thank David Nucifora for the outstanding contribution he has made in building our high performance unit over almost a decade and wish him every success in his future endeavours. Of course, before he concludes, there is still much to be done this season, including the upcoming 2024 Six Nations Championship for our Men, Women and U20s as well as preparing our Sevens teams for the Paris Olympics.


“He will leave a solid foundation for David Humphreys to build upon and we are grateful for his commitment to working with his successor through next Spring, ensuring a smooth handover of this key role for Irish Rugby.”

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.”

The IRFU Performance Director has ultimate responsibility for the delivery of integrated high-performance systems for the benefit of Irish Rugby, with world-class elite player development pathways, world-class coaching, and world-class support, all delivering consistent and sustained performance by the National Teams through excellence and innovation.


They 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.

Humphreys had a stellar career with Ulster and Ireland, winning 72 caps for Ireland 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.

Humphreys served as Director of Rugby for Ulster and spent six years in a similar role with Gloucester. He then took on a role as a High Performance Consultant with Georgia Rugby and is currently the Director of Performance Operations with the England & Wales Cricket Board, which includes responsibility for central contracting. He is also a renowned rugby analyst doing commentary and writing opinion pieces in the Irish media. A qualified solicitor, he was educated at Ballymena Academy, Queen’s University Belfast, and Oxford University.

Humphreys will join the IRFU in March as Performance Director Designate, working alongside Nucifora to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition. From 1st June 2024, Nucifora will then oversee the final preparation programme for the Paris Olympic Games, while Humphreys will assume full responsibility as IRFU Performance Director.

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