Lions coach Johan Ackermann
Lions coach Johan Ackermann
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Johan Ackermann announced on Monday he will leave the Lions Rugby Company at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

The 47-year-old will take up a position as head coach with Gloucester in England from the beginning of the new English rugby season.

Ackermann got emotional on Monday when he thanked the union and the supporters for showing so much faith in him when he took over from John Mitchell as head coach in 2013.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment here at the Lions, but I want to give myself an opportunity to grow as a coach and I believe this is the best move for my career,” he said, holding back the tears.

Maybe I’ll get an opportunity to come back to South Africa one day and put everything back into the game here what I will learn in England.”

CEO of the Lions Rudolf Straeuli said: “I honour and respect his decision and wish him all the best. He will be missed but we have experienced coaches in our structures and that will ensure continuity going forward.”

Straeuli said the union would now look into a replacement for Ackermann. The new coach will take charge of the team for the first time in the Currie Cup competition.

Current assistant coaches Swys de Bruin and JP Ferreira are the favourites for the position, but the union haven’t ruled out the possibility of them hiring someone from outside.

[email protected]

Independent Media