Jo Yapp: Former England captain makes history with appointment as new head coach of Australia women

Jo Yapp during a Rugby Union coaching session
Jo Yapp was Worcester Women boss when their funding was withdrawn in October, forcing their withdrawal from the Premiership

Former England captain Jo Yapp has been appointed as the new head coach of Australia women on a two-year deal.

Yapp, 44, becomes the first female head coach of an Australian senior national team in a major football code.

It is her first job since her role as Worcester Women director of rugby came to an end following the “heartbreaking” financial funding collapse in October.

“I am looking forward to getting started and building further towards the 2025 Rugby World Cup,” said Yapp.

“It is a great honour. I have fond recollections of battling Australia as a player, and you cannot help but be impressed by the strides the Wallaroos have made in the past couple of years.

“They’re really looking to take the game forward,” Yapp told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

“For a semi-professional team to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup last year, and to then finish third in the WXV tournament this year, is a huge testament to the talent in the country.

“They’ve done exceptionally well with the resources they’ve had but they’re looking to develop their programme with the appointment of full-time staff, and looking to fully contract the players. “

Yapp also says that it was the only job opportunity to alert her interest, following the suddenness and speed with which the Worcester women’s dream died just two months ago.

“I hadn’t had much opportunity to stop and really think initially,” she said. “At Worcester, the focus was on trying to support the players and get them into other clubs. Only then was there time to reflect on what to do next – and this opportunity came up. I hadn’t really looked into anything else.

“I had a few months out in Australia when I finished playing rugby, when I first got a feel for the place, especially in Sydney, where I was based.

“It’s an amazing country. And they obviously have some amazing athletes in their programme.

“I’ll be based in Sydney again. My start date is 8 January. I’m going out there for two weeks initially to meet everybody and get around the Super Clubs and players. Then I will come home, but be back for the end of the Super Rugby competition.”

Jo Yapp was captain when England reached the final of the 2006 Women's World Cup
Jo Yapp was captain when England reached the final of the 2006 Women’s World Cup

Yapp won 70 caps for England, including at three World Cups in 1998, 2002 and 2006, before becoming head coach of England under-20 women’s team and working as director of rugby at Exeter University. She has also twice coached the Barbarians.

After being promoted from skills coach to director of rugby at Worcester, Yapp took the club to sixth in the Premier 15s before they folded two months ago.

“Jo is a highly sought-after coach,” said Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh. “I am confident that she is the right person to lead the development of the Wallaroos programme as we look towards the next World Cup in England in 2025.

“This appointment is a crucial one as we work towards our goal of continuing to grow Women’s Rugby in Australia. It is a huge opportunity for our game as we continue to grow sustainably.”

Before the announcement of Yapp’s arrival, no senior Australian national team in rugby union, rugby league, Australian rules football or association football had hired a female head coach.

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