De Bruin took charge of the Super Rugby side two years ago when then boss Johan Ackermann left South Africa. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Three-time Super Rugby runners-up, the Lions, and their head coach, Swys de Bruin, have parted ways.

De Bruin took charge of the Super Rugby side two years ago when then boss Johan Ackermann left South Africa to coach Gloucester in England. Before that he was Ackermann’s right-hand man for five years.

With the duo in charge, the Lions played in three successive Super Rugby finals – between 2016 and 2018. Under the guidance of Ackermann and De Bruin, the Lions became South Africa’s top franchise and that just a few years after they’d actually been booted out of the competition in 2013 because of their poor results.

The Lions said in a statement on Friday that both parties had agreed to the separation.

De Bruin has had a difficult year. While the Lions were on tour in New Zealand in the Super Rugby campaign he suffered a mental breakdown and returned home, leaving the team to be coached by conditioning coach Ivan van Rooyen. He sought medical intervention in South Africa and later returned to his job.

But, a few months later, while helping the Springboks prepare for the World Cup in Japan – as an attack consultant – De Bruin again broke down, and quit the Bok squad. He has since been at home recovering from stress.

Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli said De Bruin had made a lasting contribution at the Lions. “Swys made a ground-breaking contribution in the style of play and attacking patterns to the team whereby memorable tries were scored,” said Straeuli.

De Bruin called his seven years with the Lions “unbelievable”. “Thank you to everyone who made it special and memorable. The Lions will always have a special place in my heart.”

The Lions said they would consult with SA Rugby and their other stakeholders in the appointment of a successor. Van Rooyen has taken charge of the Currie Cup team for the last two seasons, guiding them to the final this year. He would be the favourites to continue in the role in Super Rugby next year.



The Star

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