Rassie Erasmus to return to SA rugby

30 June 2017 - 13:53 By Craig Ray
A file photo of former Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, right, chatting to Rassie Erasmus at Springbok training session.
A file photo of former Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, right, chatting to Rassie Erasmus at Springbok training session.

The worst-kept secret in Irish and South African rugby is out – Rassie Erasmus is returning to his homeland to take up the role of director of rugby.

SA Rugby‚ the sport’s governing body‚ made the announcement on Friday after months of reports linking Erasmus to a return from Munster in Ireland‚ where he also fulfilled the director of rugby role.

Munster’s South African defence coach Jacques Nienaber‚ who is a close Erasmus ally‚ will also return to SA to work with the director as a high performance coach.

Erasmus‚ who left a year ago to take up a position at Irish province Munster‚ will return as the Director of Rugby to oversee South African rugby’s eight national teams and participation and management of 20 competitions‚ and the development of players‚ coaches and referees.

During his time in Ireland he was named as Pro12 Coach of the Year after leading Munster to the top of the log for the first time in six years as well as to the semifinals of the European Champions Cup. Munster won 26 out of 32 matches in all competitions.

Erasmus’s employment with Munster will terminate on December 31.

Allister Coetzee’s position as Springbok coach remains unchanged‚ said Jurie Roux‚ CEO of SA Rugby.

“Allister has done a great job to turn the Springboks around this season and I can categorically put to rest any idea that he is being replaced as Springbok coach‚” Roux said.

“We will do everything in our power to support him for the Rugby Championship and everything that lies beyond that.”

Commenting on the departures‚ Munster Rugby CEO Garrett Fitzgerald said: “With the squad and management returning for preseason this week we can today confirm that Rassie and Jacques will return to South Africa.

“While we understand Erasmus’s reason to return to his home country for an opportunity as the national director of rugby we are disappointed to see him and Jacques both leave.

“Working closely with both I witnessed first-hand the work that they do‚ and we will always be grateful to Rassie for leading the squad through our most difficult time with the untimely passing of ‘Axel’ (former coach Anthony Foley).

“I believe we were very lucky in securing Rassie and Jacques in the first place‚ and we are thankful for the services of such experienced and knowledgeable coaching talent.

“Rassie succeeded in getting us back on track with much of the same personnel and when you see how far we have come and what we have gone through as a squad and organisation I am confident we will successfully manage the next stage.

“We have been in this position before‚ whereby our coach has been offered a national role and we are not going to stand in the way of someone in that regard. We understand Rassie’s decision‚ and all parties are working together in managing the situation.

“I believe we are in a positive place and I don’t think there will be any doubts around what we can achieve and go on to do.

“We’ll continue to learn from both coaches and progress with putting the structures and processes in place in making sure we are a side performing and competing at the highest level.”

- TimesLIVE