Official: Van Graan takes over from Rassie at Munster

11 October 2017 - 16:51 By Craig Ray
A file photo of Johann van Graan during the Springbok Field training session and Media interview at Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on May 31, 2016 in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
A file photo of Johann van Graan during the Springbok Field training session and Media interview at Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on May 31, 2016 in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan was on Wednesday officially unveiled as Irish province Munster’s new head coach two weeks after it was first reported in the Irish media.

The 37-year-old Van Graan‚ who spent six seasons as a Springbok assistant to Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee‚ will take up his new role in November.

Rassie Erasmus‚ the current director of rugby at the club‚ will return to South Africa to resume his position of high performance manager at SA Rugby later this year.

Van Graan was also a member of the Bulls' management when they won Super Rugby three times between 2007 and 2010 and despite his relatively young age brings a wealth of experience to the position.

“I am immensely excited and honoured to join Munster and to be part of a club with a unique ethos and history dating back 138 years to 1879‚” Van Graan said.

“Some of the words I associate with Munster Rugby are passion‚ excellence‚ ambition and integrity‚ and I feel very fortunate to be handed this opportunity. I am looking forward to working with the Munster players‚ support staff and supporters on this new journey‚ and to become part of their community.”

Van Graan is currently in the process of obtaining an Irish work permit and will join the club as soon as possible to begin work alongside Erasmus in a transitional phase.

Although he won’t hold the title of ‘director of rugby’ at Munster‚ Van Graan will handle the same responsibilities as his departing compatriot. Munster have restructured their coaching ticket.

“After a worldwide search we are delighted to secure Johann van Graan as Munster Head Coach‚” Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald said.

“Rugby was the focal point of this process and in Johann we are getting a recognised rugby intellectual with a proven track record and extensive experience working with a national side.

“An analyst of the game‚ his technical ability and interpersonal skills have made him an integral member of the South African rugby landscape for over a decade‚ and it is now time for an ambitious Johann to make an impact in a new rugby environment.

“We know Johann‚ with forwards coach Jerry Flannery and backline and attack coach Felix Jones‚ will continue to establish the structures and processes required to bring this Munster team forward in terms of growth and success.”

Van Graan added: “I was fortunate enough to be part of the Springboks for the past six years and 69 Tests so far‚ which was an incredible journey up to now.

“A special word of thanks to Allister Coetzee‚ Heyneke Meyer‚ Ian Schwartz (Springbok team manager)‚ Jurie Roux (SA Rugby CEO) and Mark Alexander (SA Rugby president) for their belief in me and their fantastic support.

“The Springboks are a big part of my life and I was blessed to coach some of the best players in the world. The training and matches were important‚ but even more so‚ the times we spent together‚ and the friendships I have made is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Springbok coach Coetzee praised Van Graan for his contribution to the Springboks: “I’ve had the pleasure of working very closely with Johann for the past two seasons‚ he is a very good man and I know first-hand why he is so highly rated.

“He is highly competent‚ extremely hard working and his attention to detail is one of his great strengths. He has a great passion for coaching and I have no doubt that he has all the makings of a very good head coach. I want to wish him well in his new role.”