Rassie Erasmus to be 'coach‚ but not called Bok coach'
In true South African rugby fashion‚ by gaining clarity on one issue‚ another became muddied in the wake of Allister Coetzee’s sacking as Springbok coach on Friday.
Coetzee and SA Rugby negotiated a settlement‚ the details of which remain private‚ to end Coetzee’s 22-month association with the team.
But after months of dragging out Coetzee’s inevitable sacking after his Springboks won only 11 of 25 Tests (44%) in 2016 and 2017‚ SA Rugby were deliberately vague on the identity of his successor.
Unofficially TimesLIVE has been informed that director of rugby Rassie Erasmus would take up the position as head of a coaching group‚ which includes SA Rugby employees such as defence coach specialist Jacques Nienaber.
But in a statement SA Rugby didn’t go as far as naming Erasmus as Coetzee’s successor‚ rather opaquely indicating that he would be the coach even if he isn’t 'called Springbok coach'.
“The Rugby Department will manage the responsibilities of the Springbok coach‚ until the national team’s coaching and management group for 2018 is confirmed later this month‚” SA Rugby’s statement read.
Erasmus has been shielded from the media since his return to SA Rugby last November‚ but on Thursday night he had to make a rare public appearance at the launch of a national academy in Stellenbosch.
There he admitted to Sarugbymag.co.za – which has been widely written for the past month – that he had been doing all the Boks’ planning for the next two seasons since his return from Munster in Ireland.
“There has already been a lot of planning going on through various levels of the game‚ and particularly with regards to the Springboks‚” Erasmus said.
“We are ranked sixth in the world‚ so my immediate focus and the big ticket is to fix things as soon as possible.
“All of us want things (with the coaching roles and responsibilities) to be in place as soon as possible‚ but I don’t see it as a massive problem.
“I can take you back to 2012 when Heyneke (Meyer) was appointed and we (the Rugby Department) did all the planning.
“A lot of the support staff were only confirmed shortly before the start of that first test series‚ and we beat England in that series. It was the same with Allister two years ago‚ and we beat Ireland 2-1.
“So there has been planning going on behind the scenes‚ and of course we want to get that clarity‚ but there is a process that has to run its course.
“However‚ it’s not hindering us in the background and it isn’t affecting my role as director of rugby‚ which is to ensure that we are as well prepared as possible to be able to beat England in that first test series.”
Last week TimesLIVE published excerpts from a letter‚ in its possession‚ written by Coetzee and addressed to SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
In the 19-page document‚ Coetzee questioned Erasmus’s credentials to fulfil the job of Bok coach‚ strengthening indications that the latter will take over.