Rassie: I won't be sitting in the office all day
Erasmus will in future spend most of his time fulfilling his Director of Rugby duties - the position he was appointed in at the start of 2018 before filling in as Boks coach and guiding the team to World Cup glory in Japan last year. But, that does not mean Erasmus will sit in an office “pushing paper”, as he termed it yesterday.
“It’s impossible for me to do both jobs (that of director and head coach), so getting Jacques in as head coach frees me up to do more of the strategic stuff,” said Erasmus.
“I’m going to make sure all the systems are in place so we can achieve what we aim to on the field, that we’re all aligned in South African rugby, so that we don’t only win the World Cup every 12 years.
“But, I’m not going to be doing admin and sit in an office. I’m still going to be a part of the management team. I’m going to sit in the coach’s box with Jacques, I will be part of the team selection, we’ll decide on strategy and game-plan together ... and I will ultimately remain accountable for how the team plays.”
Erasmus made it clear that the role of the Director of Rugby differed in every country and in South Africa it would not be an office-bound position.
Nienaber has been promoted to the head coach role after working as the Boks’ defence boss since rejoining the South African Rugby Union from Munster in 2018. He and Erasmus started working together at the Free State in the mid to late 1990s and continued their relationship at Western Province and the Stormers and at Munster, in Ireland.
Nienaber, 47, said he was confident he had the knowledge and experience to be successful in the Bok hot seat, despite never having been a franchise or provincial head coach.
“There will be some who’ll say this is a massive risk, and they could be right. I can’t argue with them; I have never been a head coach before,” said Nienaber. “So, it is a risk for me and for the organisation, but Rassie said he believed I was the right guy (to take the Boks forward), and I wouldn’t have accepted the job if I didn’t believe I could do it, make a success of it.
“I like new challenges ... but yes, the results will determine if it was the right decision or not.”
Nienaber said his and Erasmus’ challenge was to ensure the Boks remained a force in world rugby following the team’s success in Japan last year.
“Continuity is key; and for us to drive the strategic goals we’ve had since 2018. We need to keep on winning and doing it consistently; create a culture of sustained winning. There will also be a big focus on transformation, on growing our squad depth, and on giving experience to players to fill a pipeline to keep us driving at getting good results.”
The rest of the management team includes backs coaches Mzwandile Stick and Felix Jones, and Deon Davids and Daan Human, the two newcomers who’ll serve as forwards coach and scrum consultant respectively. Davids replaces the departed Matt Proudfoot (England), while Jones stays on after replacing Swys de Bruin on the eve of the World Cup.
Jones, who previously played Test rugby for Ireland, will be based in Dublin and fulfil a new role, that of coaching consultant. He will look after the needs of the overseas-based Boks and ensure they remain in top condition and aware of what Erasmus and Nienaber are doing in South Africa.
“Felix will work with the overseas guys ... the 10 to 20 guys who will potentially play for the Boks,” explained Erasmus. “He will make sure that those players are up to speed with what we’re doing and what we expect of them, so that when they come into camp they’re well conditioned and know what to expect.”
The World Cup winners’ next assignment is in July when Scotland visit South Africa.