MURRAY WILLIAMS and ZELIM NEL
RASSIE Erasmus has quit Western Province rugby and the Stormers.
He confirmed today he has resigned as director of rugby, a pivotal position that oversees the running of all the province’s teams.
“Although I’ve really enjoyed my time in Cape Town, I feel like I’ve done as much as I can to put the right structures in place at Western Province and the Stormers,” Erasmus told the Cape Argus today.
“Yes, we didn’t win any trophies, but I think we were very successful, especially in 2010 when we got home semifinals in the Super 14 and Currie Cup, and reached both finals.”
In the six years between the successful 2001 Currie Cup campaign and the appointment of Erasmus for the 2008 season, WP reached just three semis while the Stormers made just one play-off.
Over the past four seasons, Province have played in three Currie Cup semis (two at Newlands) and in 2010 reached the Currie Cup final. During the same period the Stormers appeared in two Super Rugby semis and one final.
Between 2002 and 2007 Province won 50 of 83 matches for a win rate of 60 percent. The Stormers won 30 of 71 Super clashes (42 percent).
Since 2008 the Stormers have won 35 of 58 matches (60 percent) and – excluding the 2011 Currie Cup campaign during which Erasmus was on duty with the Springboks at the World Cup – Province won 29 of 45 matches (64 percent).
Erasmus confirmed he has received several overseas offers, but will probably await the appointment of the new Bok coach at the end of the month before deciding.
Erasmus, Gert Smal and Heyneke Meyer top the list of rumoured front-runners for the Bok top job, but it is understood Erasmus is more interested in a technical role.
“There has been speculation about local jobs, but there’s nothing on the table at the moment,” he said. “There are a few nice opportunities for me overseas, but I’m first going to look at all my options and see what’s best for my family and myself.”
His resignation means the union could lose both its star coaches since Alistair Coetzee could become the new Bok coach.
However, a source in rugby circles said Coetzee and Erasmus were probably not being lined up for the Bok hot seat.
With Erasmus gone, speculation is now heightened about the future of Coetzee, whose name has been bandied about as a possible successor to Bok coach Peter de Villiers.
WP Rugby managing director Rob Wagner said: “Rassie has made a huge contribution at WP. We are obviously very sorry to see him go, but understand his desire for new challenges... We understand he is a big loss but we are also confident that the structures, players, coaching and management staff and the plans in place at all levels in the province, are strong enough to allow us to make that final jump and secure the silverware that we are all working towards.”
Former Bok and WP captain Corne Krige said today: “I’ve always rated (Rassie) as a very technically sound coach, and I have massive respect for him as a technician. I’m very surprised.
Another former WP and Bok legend, Tiaan Strauss, said: “Rassie is quite a creative guy, and he’s put a lot of emphasis on players’ skill levels.”