Nico Andrade appointed QRU Women’s High-Performance Manager

Thu, Mar 28, 2024, 2:13 AM
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit

The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) is proud to announce the appointment of Nico Andrade as the QRU’s Women’s High-Performance Manager, in a first that will elevate the women’s game across the state.

Enlisting the well-credentialled Andrade is a major plus for the Reds’ aspirations in the Buildcorp Super Rugby Women’s competition and will help better align the sevens and 15-a-side games.

The newly-created position is funded via Rio Tinto’s ongoing support for rugby in Queensland. The QRU-Rio Tinto partnership is centred on elevating and growing women’s rugby in the state and providing pathways for Queenslanders to represent their state and then Australia, in both Rugby Sevens and for the Wallaroos.

Andrade, 34, will take up the new position in early April after nearly three years in Fiji with the Fijian Drua as General Manager-Rugby.

Andrade’s four years as the Queensland Rugby Union’s Head of Rugby Services (2015-19) gives him a flying start with a strong network within Queensland.

“Over the past few years, the women’s game has grown significantly. It is at a critical stage to get the right returns from the investment put in and to further expand,” Andrade said.

“In terms of the Reds’ environment, it’s a real positive that Les Kiss (Super Rugby Pacific Head Coach) and Sam Cordingley (General Manager-Professional Rugby) both see a strong alignment with the women’s program as a goal.

"One of the best ways is sharing some of the experiences from the Men’s High-Performance program which has been well-established for decades.”

Andrade, Team Manager when Queensland Country won the National Rugby Championship in 2017, said being immersed in the rise of the Fijian Drua has been ideal experience for this new role.

“Being involved in building the Fijian Drua from the ground up in Super Rugby Pacific and bringing the women’s team into the program has provided valuable lessons to apply to the set-up at Ballymore,” Andrade said.

“Engaging with a Pasifika team is like the women’s game in a way with a strong focus on showing care and building trust being really important foundations.

“I’m excited about the new role and the potential within our playing stocks as well as training and playing out of the BMS National Rugby Training Centre at Ballymore. I’m looking forward to building a rapport quickly with a pretty strong network through the clubs and regions.”

Andrade said a key component of his role was better alignment between the women’s sevens and 15-a-side programs.

“That’s absolutely vital so we get the best result for women’s rugby as a whole. If sevens and 15s live in silos we are halving our ability to compete with rival codes,” Andrade said.

“Our women’s sevens are world leaders, yet there isn’t that much tournament play. There’s a lot more competitive content in the 15-a-side game. How we get the best from both, as well as our strong QAS program, to attract and keep women in rugby is important.”

Cordingley said Andrade's understanding of where women's rugby currently sits and where it can reach stood out during the interview process.

"Nico is really on-point with where the strategy needs to be to develop sevens and 15s under the Reds banner," Cordingley said.

"His knowledge of the Queensland System and experience with the Drua make him well equipped to build on the opportunities in the Women’s game. He's made an impressive progression through community rugby into High Performance and he's a very good fit for the women's program."

The appointment coincides with Rio Tinto and the QRU working together to enhance pathways to uncover elite teenage female talent throughout Queensland. This includes a number of new talent combines and development camps which will be rolled out in metropolitan and regional Queensland to identify future Queensland and Australian representatives.

Rio Tinto and the QRU have been partners for more than a decade. To date Rio Tinto has invested $3 million in Queensland rugby and in 2023 stepped up its commitment to the Queensland Reds’ Buildcorp Super Rugby Women’s team.

Initiatives included raising the platform of the team and the players through the inaugural season of the Under The Surface docuseries. The series has returned in 2024, with an episode released the day before every game on Queensland Reds and Rio Tinto social media channels.

The Rio Tinto logo is proudly displayed on the front of the Queensland Reds’ Super Rugby Women’s and Super Rugby Pacific playing shorts.