JOHANNESBURG – The Golden Lions Rugby Union have appointed strength and conditioning coach Ivan “Cash” van Rooyen as the first team’s head coach for the 2018 Currie Cup campaign.
Van Rooyen takes over from Swys de Bruin, who will be on national duty for much of the coming weeks, acting as an attack consultant to Rassie Erasmus’ Springbok side.
The 36-year-old Van Rooyen has been a part of the Lions fabric since 2009, initially working alongside former senior conditioning coach Wayne Taylor, who was recruited by then head coach John Mitchell.
In recent years Van Rooyen, who hails from Middelburg and studied at the University of Johannesburg, has been credited with making the Lions one of the fittest and strongest teams in Super Rugby. He will be supported with input by De Bruin over the coming weeks.
Van Rooyen’s coaching team will include Phillip Lemmer (forwards), Joey Mongalo (defence) and Neil de Bruin (attack). The Lions’ first Currie Cup game is next Friday.
Meanwhile, over the course of five days this week, the Lions announced that several of their players had committed to playing for the union next year and beyond.
Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd. would Ilke to announce the Currie Cup Structure for 2018. @ivanvanr has been appolnted the 2018 Head Coach of the Xerox Golden Lions @TheCurrieCup Team and the Performance Excellence Manager of Llons Rugby Company. pic.twitter.com/MVXozXT3CM
The big signings were those of backs Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe, who have agreed to play one more season for the Lions – in next year’s Super Rugby campaign. They will be joined by fellow national players Marvin Orie, Kwagga Smith, Warren Whiteley, Cyle Brink, Malcolm Marx, Ross Cronje, Courtnall Skosan, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Ruan Combrinck and Andries Coetzee, who will all be available for the franchise next season.
Also, other players to have committed their immediate futures to the Lions include Dillon Smit, Dylan Smith, Nic Groom, Lourens Erasmus, Harold Vorster, Sylvian Mahuza, Hacjivah Dayimani, Madosh Tambwe, Shaun Reynolds, Johannes Jonker, Len Massyn, Jacobie Adriaanse, Sti Sithole, Rhyno Herbst and Robert Kruger.
In further good news, flank Marnus Schoeman (from the Pumas) and prop Danie Mienie (from Toulouse) will also be Lions players next season.
The Lions will also be pleased to have learned that senior men Whiteley, Jantjies and Mapoe will not be playing club rugby in Japan this year, meaning they will have a proper off-season. The only Lions players who still have club commitments in Japan are Smith, Erasmus, Combrinck and Vorster.
After a difficult few months of negotiations the only players the Lions have lost to overseas clubs are Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Dreyer, Franco Mostert, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Jaco Kriel.