JOHANNESBURG - SARU director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will on Thursday be unveiled as the Springboks’ new head coach - if not permanently then definitely for the foreseeable future.
And, Erasmus will at the same time announce his management team for the next two years, up until the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The 45-year-old Erasmus will take over as the Boks’ coach after Saru and former coach Allister Coetzee agreed to end their partnership earlier this year. Under Coetzee the Boks slumped to record defeats against New Zealand, Argentina and Italy.
Erasmus returned to South Africa in the latter stages of last year after spending two seasons as head coach of Munster in Ireland. Before moving abroad, the former Springbok flank filled a similar role as director of rugby at Saru.
Before that he coached at the Stormers and Western Province - ironically alongside Coetzee - and made his name as a player and coach at the Cheetahs, where he won the Currie Cup.
At Munster Erasmus was named Pro12 coach of the season for 2016/17. He was lured back to South Africa by Saru to take up the director of rugby position, with a view to possibly becoming the next Bok coach, which he will now become. Erasmus has previously worked as a consultant to the Boks.
Erasmus will become the 14th Boks coach since South Africa’s readmission to international sport in 1992. His right-hand man of many years, defence guru and the man often credited for making the Stormers such a powerful defensive outfit, Jacques Nienaber, will officially also join the Bok management team. He, too, returned to South Africa from Munster, alongside Erasmus.
The other man returning to the Bok fold is scrum coach Pieter de Villiers, who turned out for France in his playing days. The skills coach who will predominantly be involved with the backs will be Mzwandile Stick, who was brought into the Bok set-up by Coetzee, but after just one season in the green and gold he was dumped from the coaching staff.
Stick, Nienaber and De Villiers effectively take the places of Franco Smith, Brendan Venter and Johan van Graan.
What the future holds for Matt Proudfoot, who was Coetzee’s scrum coach, is unknown, but it is expected he will not form part of the new-look coaching team.
The rest of the 2018 Bok management team will be unveiled, but it is not likely to include Ian Schwartz, who was team manager under Meyer and in Coetzee’s two years in charge.
The Boks’ first assignment under the guidance of the new coaching team will be a one-off Test against Wales, in Washington DC on June 2. They then play a three-Test series against Eddie Jones’ England team.