‘Henry Honiball fan’ Tony Brown always had a connection with South Africa

Springbok's New Zealand assistant coach Tony Brown pictured at a press conference.

Springbok's New Zealand assistant coach Tony Brown played in South Africa for both the Sharks and the Stormers. Picture: Rodger Bosch / AFP

Published Mar 13, 2024


Tony Brown may have been a flyhalf for the All Blacks, but he has had a connection with South African rugby for a long time – and now it has become official after his appointment as the new attack coach for the Springboks.

Having completed an 8-year stint with the Japan national team at last year’s World Cup, Brown was available for a fresh challenge. Brown – who turned 49 in January – played for the Sharks in Super Rugby in 2006 and the Stormers in 2008.

But his bond with South Africa was formed much earlier.

“My favourite player was Henry Honiball, and I probably tried to play the game that way as well!” Brown said at his first Bok press conference in Cape Town yesterday.

“I’m just a 100% all-in guy. As soon as Rassie Erasmus rang, I said, ‘Yes! I didn’t have to consult anyone’. The challenge and excitement I have for coaching the Springboks is massive.

The Springboks have got a massively proud history, and for me to come in and try to be a part of that and add to that is a huge honour.

“What the Springboks have done over the last two World Cups is massively impressive, and the way they are able to win big games of rugby – and the key moments in games of rugby – has been a pleasure to watch.”

But the main goal for Brown would be to add some special tricks to the Bok attack.

Renowned for their physical approach over the years, the world champions have tried to utilise their backs more often in recent seasons, with the likes of Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Willie le Roux, Damian Willemse, Lukhanyo Am and Manie Libbok at the forefront of their creative mindset.

The New Zealander, who played 18 Tests for the All Blacks between 1999 and 2001, believes that the Boks can bring a fresh energy to their attack ahead of the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

“Once I get more time with the players, it will become clearer how we need to play,” Brown said.

“I always coach with a defence coach.

“Can I make a massive difference around how the Springboks attack? One hundred percent I can.

“I really believe in the way that the South Africans play the game, that if they add a few little things around the attacking side, then they can be really dominant on attack as well – like we are at defence, scrum, line-out and maul.

“We will never ever change the Springbok identity … I will just try to find ways to add to how they play the game.”