The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has appointed former Wallabies playmaker Rod Kafer to a project role within its High Performance department, where he will lead the facilitation of Australia’s elite coach development program.
Kafer, a 12-Test Wallaby who tasted Rugby World Cup, Tri Nations, Bledisloe Cup and Super Rugby success, will begin in the role immediately by coordinating the newly-constructed National Coaching Advisory Panel.
Generally considered to be one of the foremost thinkers in the game, Kafer will balance his ARU High-Performance role with his TV commentary commitments with Fox Sports.
Kafer said: “As most know, we currently have many important priorities we need to address to improve the game. Our challenge is to ignore all of them and only focus on the critical few priorities that will lead to long-term success and improve our prospects of winning consistently, at every level.
“Coaching is a critical priority that we must improve, at all levels. We must ensure that best practice at the elite end of the game flows to all coaches and players from the top to the bottom. That is a sure path to improvement and a critical investment in the game’s future.
“Every player and coach has a part to play in developing future Wallabies, Wallaroos and Olympians, and the more resources we provide to improve those players the better our future will be. We have already started on it and I can’t wait to see where we get to.
“It’s a privilege to be joining the ARU and trying to make a difference, rather than just voicing an opinion on it, as many of us do.”
ARU General Manager, High Performance, Ben Whitaker said: “Rod is a fantastic acquisition into Australian Rugby and has shown a genuine willingness to be involved in shaping the way forward to achieve on-field success across our programs.
“Rod's Rugby intelligence is well known and he is one of the most respected voices in the game. He will be able to work with our elite coaches to identify opportunities for important learning and development.
“This is an area of High Performance that has been collectively prioritised and we have been able to design a model for it to be delivered via a centralised system.
“Rod will challenge and support how we are developing our elite coaches and teams and we believe his personality and approach is exactly what we need to drive winning performance.”
In his new role, Kafer will work closely with Australia’s professional coaches at Wallabies, Wallaroos, Sevens and Super Rugby level to build individual coaching capabilities, with an emphasis on creating a national unity of purpose.
This new role will include coordinating the National Coaching Advisory Panel, which was announced by the ARU following a meeting of former Australian coaching greats, Kafer and Wallabies Coach Michael Cheika in May.
As a player, Kafer was the first to taste success in all of the major southern and northern hemisphere Rugby tournaments, claiming a European Cup and Premiership title with English club Leicester a year after winning the Super Rugby crown with the Brumbies.
Since returning to Australia in 2005 he has been an integral member of the Fox Sports Rugby commentary team covering Test matches, Super Rugby and Sevens tournaments as well as providing expert analysis on Fox Sports’ weekly Rugby magazine shows.