WP Rugby Head of Athletic Performance

PUBLISHED: October 9, 2023

Western Province Professional Rugby is looking for a candidate to fill the role of Head of Athletic Performance.

Rugby in the Western Cape is primarily split between Community and Professional Rugby.

WPPR is the Professional arm of Western Province rugby, which oversees all professionally contracted players who have left school.

WPPR’s Professional arm is split further into two parts. The flagship team, the DHL Stormers, represents all senior contract players participating in the Currie Cup, Vodacom United Rugby
Championship and the Investec Champions Cup is known as Elite Rugby. All other contracted players in the Professional arm fall under the umbrella of Pathway operations.

WPPR is looking for people who want to make an impact – individuals with the courage and ambition to think and work differently, and an endless desire for progress.

The position of Head of Athletic Performance exists to deliver a world-class development and performance experience for all players within the WPPR system, creating optimal conditions for
talent to perform. The role will work closely with the Senior Head Coach and the Head of Rugby to drive a culture of High-Performance and Belonging.

The role will lead, participate, and support process and systems that ensures both individual and team growth.

The Head of Rugby and the Senior Head Coach have veto power in all matters falling within themHead of Athletic Performance’s sphere of responsibility.

Primary Purpose of Role

  1. Manage and lead the athletic performance department in the design, implementation and ongoing evaluation of the athletic performance program of Western Province Professional Rugby.
  2. Assume overall responsibility for the day-to-day management of an expert group of performance and medical practitioners.
  3. Create and optimise athletes with the ability to perform within the DHL Stormers’ game model – working with all other staff and coaches, ensuring the needs of the rugby program are at the forefront of all thinking.
  4. Implement a coordinated Strength and Conditioning program aligned to the DHL Stormers game model, which includes individual and positional requirements, as well as long-term
    athlete development plans.
  5. Execute and collaborate on player medical / performance case management, while communicating needed information to staff members.
  6. Create durable and robust athletes capable of performing at high levels for extended periods, through appropriate planning and optimisation.
  7. Align coaching and athletic performance staff on all the physical elements of the game model, across pathway, academy and senior programs.
  8. Manage the departmental budget, inventory and staff
  9. Negotiate and maintain good relationships with S&C suppliers and sponsors.
  10. Develop and drive the vision of the department.
  11. Develop pathway players into athletes with the physical capabilities to play for the DHL Stormers.
  12. Research, identify and implement world-class Strength and Conditioning techniques and strategies across all WP Rugby teams. Be innovative.
  13. Report to the Head of Rugby and Senior Head Coach/
  14. Serve as a role model for both players and staff in the areas of physical, mental and emotional wellness.
  15. Adopt the AIS Sports Science Sports Medicine Best Practice Principles.
  16. Development and integration of cutting-edge scientifically reliable and valid monitoring systems focused on the nervous, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system, utilising
    objective and subjective measures.
  17. Identify and manage the development of ‘leading-edge’ scientific concepts in highly competitive international sporting environments.
  18. Develop external stakeholder partnerships with sporting organisations, universities, and industry.

General Responsibilities

  1. Responsible for delivering an integrated athletic performance and player monitoring & management plan to the professional/national players at WPPR that aligns with the methodological principles set forth by the latest Performance Science research and experience.
  2. Lead and coordinate a team of Athletic Performance Coaches and Sport Scientists to ensure all players receive individual development programmes, monitoring and reporting
    on pre-season / in-season preparation.
  3. Ensuring alignment between pathway and academy development programmes, academy and senior development programmes, and provincial and national team requirements.
  4. Meeting KPI’s for professional player development.
  5. Working closely with SARU and WPPR support staff (including coaching, nutrition, medical, and physiotherapy staff) in implementing an integrated professional player programme.
  6. Implementation of SARU’s national player development programme in conjunction with SARU’s Head of Athletic Performance for the National Teams.
  7. Attending and assisting with workshops, in-service meetings, professional development courses/workshops, and other WPPR/SARU-supported workshops.
  8. Assisting in the delivery of coach and player education programmes.
  9. To develop and implement WPPR nutrition policies.
  10. To be aware of and to attain the performance measures set for the position.
  11. To lead and facilitate the development of all direct reports.

Key Performance Indicators

● Establish and achieve set KPI’s in conjunction with the Senior Head Coach and Head of Rugby at WPPR.
● Maintaining effective working relationships with various staff within WPPR and SARU.
● Carry out duties and responsibilities to an effective and efficient standard.

The following KPIs are general. Specific targets will be set for your role during agreed meetings with the Head of Rugby and the Senior Head Coach. The meetings will also include an appraisal
and review of the attainment of the KPIs set at previous meetings. An end-of-year review will also take place where the duties and responsibilities will be fully appraised.

● Manage the planning and implementation of a comprehensive periodised plan of development for professional/national players in conjunction with the provincial/national support staff;
● Allign with the SARU Head of Athletic Performance on all periodised programmes for provincial and national team players.
● Ensure all monitoring and reporting procedures are fulfilled for WPPR and SARU.
● Organise and implement player performance reviews.
● Complete regular progression monitoring of players within the programme.
● Ensure that the programme of physical development is integrated and aligned with the player’s rugby development demands.
● Ensure an excellent level of performance in all areas of strength and conditioning across strength, power, speed-agility, injury prevention, conditioning, and recovery.
● Manage the provincial strength and conditioning staff to ensure a best-practice approach is achieved in terms of the content and delivery of all programmes at senior, academy
and Development Squads.
● Manage the delivery of the nutrition programme in conjunction with the nutritionist to ensure best-practice delivery for senior, academy and Development Squads.
● Work closely with the SARU Head of Athletic Performance to ensure that the plans in place serve the players well for both their international and provincial duties.

● Recognised degree (Masters or equivalent) in physical education, human movement or exercise and sports science;
● A minimum of five years’ experience in an athletic performance (strength & conditioning) position within an elite/professional Rugby environment (Candidates without rugby experience may be considered based on experience);
● In order to ensure best-in-class performance, candidate must have both global experience and multi-sport experience.
● High level of knowledge around the physical, psychological, technical (position specific), and tactical (style of play) demands associated with Rugby.
● High level of knowledge around the profiling and screening of athletic qualities.
● Excellent coaching and programming skills around injury risk reduction (relative to the demands of Rugby) and end-stage return to perform/play criteria (relative to injury type).
● Excellent coaching and programming skills around the development of plyometric ability, linear speed (sprinting), multidirectional speed (COD/Reactive Agility), and Rugby
specific movement skill integration.
● Excellent coaching and programming skills around the development of Rugby specific conditioning, specifically as it relates to the functional integration of conditioning within
the context of practice.
● Excellent coaching and programming skills around the development of general and specific strength and power.
● Excellent coaching and programming skills around the development of recovery and regeneration plans.
● Excellent ability to work within an interdisciplinary team and share responsibility for player development and programme management.
● Excellent people management and leadership skills, with a minimum of five-year history in a management position.
● Excellent communication and conflict resolution skills.
● High level of self-awareness and overall emotional intelligence.


This position is being offered on a 3-year fixed-term full-time basis and is based in Cape Town.

To apply, please email your CV and a cover letter no longer than one page to Mr Greg Hechter at jobs@wprugby.co.za.

Please note that the closing date for applications is strictly Wednesday 11 October 2023 at 17h00.

Short-listed candidates will be invited to a further round of interviews. The proposed start date for the role is 1 November 2023.

WPPR is an equal opportunities employer. All applicants meeting the minimum standard will be considered for employment without attention to race, religion, orientation, gender identity or
disability status.

WPPR reserves the right to withhold or delay an appointment to the position or to headhunt candidates should no appropriate candidate emerge from the selection process.