Rugby Australia is getting closer to naming their new director of high-performance, with World Rugby’s director of high-performance Peter Horne set to take on the role. The move could potentially help land highly-regarded coach Joe Schmidt for the vacant Wallabies job. According to The Roar, Horne emerged as the leading candidate in recent weeks and appears to have edged out other potential candidates for the role. His appointment reflects RA’s desire to go down an administrative path rather than choosing a former coach for the position.

Horne, who joined World Rugby in 2015, will sit at the top of the high-performance tree with the next Wallabies coach reporting into him. During his tenure with World Rugby, he played an important role in setting up competitions, high-performance structures, and pathways across developing countries. He also helped integrate Fiji Drua and Moana Pasifika into the Super Rugby competition.

Rugby Australia chief-executive Phil Waugh stated that the successful candidate would have one of the biggest jobs in the game, and Horne will oversee all of Australia’s men’s and women’s high-performance programs. He will also be tasked with integrating the programs and centralizing all of the Super Rugby high-performance programs.

The potentially crucial factor in Horne’s appointment is his close relationship with former Ireland coach and All Blacks assistant Joe Schmidt. Schmidt previously worked alongside Horne at World Rugby and is said to be interested in the Wallabies coaching job. If RA moves to hire Schmidt, his backing would be largely supported by the Super Rugby franchises as he is seen as the type of person the Wallabies need after a year where attention to detail and rugby smarts were clearly absent on the field.

It is believed that Schmidt’s relationship with Ireland’s long-time director of high-performance David Nucifora could also be a significant factor in the potential hiring. RA has been making moves to try and get Nucifora on board as a consultant when he finishes up with Ireland.

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