Pretoria – Former Springbok and Bulls captain Victor Matfield’s coaching career hangs in the balance after rumours surfaced that the lanky 36-year-old lock is considering coming out of retirement.
Matfield, who retired from the game at the end of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, was appointed forwards and attack coach for the Bulls Super Rugby and Blue Bulls Currie Cup teams at the end of last year.
If it is true that Matfield is to return to playing then it would put on ice any plans the Blue Bulls had of appointing him head coach of the Currie Cup side for next year to take over the reins from Pine Pienaar whose contract expired at the end of October.
Matfield has allegedly been training with Springbok conditioning coach Basil Carzis for the past three weeks and sources close to Matfield confirmed he was seriously considering coming back.
Blue Bulls Company chief executive officer Barend van Graan refused to comment on the matter on Thursday, while Blue Bulls Rugby Union president and chairman of the board Louis Nel said any decision regarding the matter would only be considered at the next board meeting which is scheduled for later this month.
“I won’t say we won’t entertain it (Matfield playing again) but that is a matter that would have to be tabled before the board when we meet (on November 22 and 23).
“As far as the Currie Cup coach is concerned it will stay as it is and no new decision will be made until we have our planning session and board meeting,” Nel said.
It is not the first time Matfield would be considering coming back to the game, as he toyed with the idea at the beginning of last year before Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s appointment.
Matfield’s return last year was stifled by the fact that he had a standing contract with pay television channel SuperSport as a rugby analyst, a contract the Bulls relieved Matfield from to become their forwards coach.
Further fuelling speculation of Matfield’s return is that after his retirement two years ago the Bulls and Springboks have struggled to fill the void at number five lock while the recall to the national team of former Bulls and Springbok teammates Fourie du Preez and Bakkies Botha could also serve to entice Matfield back to the field.
Several attempts to reach Matfield were unsuccessful.
Matfield is not the only blast from the past rumoured to be returning, with former Springbok flyhalf Derick Hougaard, who is said to be strongly considering coming out of an injury-enforced retirement to play for the Bulls next year.
Hougaard returned from England where he had played for Saracens at the end of last year after calling time on his career because of an Achilles injury from which he was struggling to recover.
In his heyday Hougaard was instrumental in Meyer’s first Currie Cup trophy in 2002 and was also part of the Bulls team that won the Super 12 title in 2007 before his departure for England in 2008.
More changes are expected to be announced at the Bulls after their board meeting, with Hendre Marnitz to be confirmed as under-19 head coach in the place of Paul Anthony, who is joining the Sharks coaching staff this month.