Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has indicated to his players that he will not be returning to South Africa to take up a role with SA Rugby.
For much of this year, there has been speculation that SA Rugby has been intently entering into discussions with Erasmus in order for him to return home to take up a director of rugby type role, while some reports even alleged that he could take over from coach Allister Coetzee following the conclusion of the June series against France.
In fact, at the beginning of April, the signs seemed to suggest that Munster were preparing for the probability of Erasmus departing despite having two more years on his contract.
Erasmus signed a three-year contract with Munster and the IRFU (Ireland Rugby Football Union) in 2016, but there is a clause in his contract that would allow him to take up an offer from the Springboks should he provide the necessary notice.
However, in the wake of Munster’s European Champions Cup defeat to Saracens on Saturday, hooker Niall Scannell revealed that Erasmus had informed the players that he was set to stay in his current role.
“There's been a lot speculation, but he clarified to us a few weeks ago,” Scannell said. “And I'll be honest with you, at the time it was reassuring to hear because himself, Jacques (Nienaber), Felix (Jones) and Fla (Jerry Flannery), they're a top quality coaching ticket and they've done so much for us.
“Obviously Axel (Munster's late head coach Anthony Foley) had a big hand in that, but if you just look at the turnaround we've had in nine, 10 months. I can't speak highly enough for what a good coach Rassie is.”
Indeed, by all accounts, Erasmus has quickly become an extremely popular figure in Munster, where he has helped revive the fortunes of the Irish club after just a year in charge.
“It's brilliant that he's staying around,” Scannell commented. “It's brilliant for our club and it's brilliant for Irish rugby. The confidence it's given us, it's something I haven't had from a coach before.
“He comes into the changing room afterwards saying: look, they're further along their curve and they were the better team today. You trust him and you believe that we will evolve and we will get there and that's hugely reassuring that he's staying around.”