Boks versus All Blacks will be ‘personal’ for attack coach Brown

SPRINGBOK attack coach Tony Brown is ready for a personal encounter with his native New Zealand. | AFP

SPRINGBOK attack coach Tony Brown is ready for a personal encounter with his native New Zealand. | AFP

Published Mar 16, 2024


He’s had plenty of Springbok rivalries in a black jersey as a player, but now former All Blacks flyhalf Tony Brown is ready to add another dimension to the Bok attack with an eye on winning the 2027 Rugby World Cup with the side.

Hopefully, too, he will convert more local New Zealand rugby supporters to change allegiances and get behind the world champions by winning more rugby matches.

Rassie Erasmus, back for a second term as South Africa’s coach, picked outside the box with his latest additions to the Bok management with Brown and former Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery’s appointments as attack and defence coaches.

Brown told Independent Newspapers this past week at their official unveiling that the decision to join Erasmus and his championship side wasn’t that difficult.

He had plenty of experience as a Highlanders and New Zealand player in Mzansi and even had stints with the Sharks and Stormers, where he first got involved with Erasmus. The passion of supporters and the rugby culture lured him back as a coach.

The last time he was in the country was as part of the Highlanders during Super Rugby.

“I have very fond memories of playing in South Africa against the likes of Victor Matfield, and Bakkies Botha and with John Smit and Johann Ackerman when I was at the Sharks in a derby at Loftus Versfeld. I didn’t last that game because I broke my hand and had to get off at half-time,” Brown said.

“The passion South Africa has for rugby is the main thing that draws me here. When we were touring the country, the rivalry and games were intense. The fans and crowds were massive. That is what I love about the rugby side, but South Africa as a country is an amazing place.

“Don’t forget the steaks, the ribs, and restaurants. Hussars Grill is my favourite. Coming back and being part of this culture for the next four years, it’s exciting for me.”

What excites Brown also is the Springboks competing against his former international side in the first year of his coaching tenure. The All Blacks head to South Africa later this year for double tests in the Rugby Championship at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and DHL Stadium in Cape Town.

Brown, as an All Black, was fortunate enough to face the Boks at Newlands when the stadium was still the holy grail of rugby in Cape Town.

“I grew up watching that rivalry and was fortunate to be a part of it in my playing days. Now, I want to help the Springboks prepare for that. I want to go to the game where it is sold out. It’s exciting to be able to coach in that environment. That match will be personal to me.

“The greatest honour I had playing for the All Blacks was when we played here at Newlands and I didn’t start many big tests for the team because we had Andrew Mehrtens, but for this one, I got the nod ahead of him. To come here and we beat them, that was the greatest thing I had ever done in that jersey. Beating the Boks at Newlands is probably my best memory here in South Africa.”

Brown looks forward to creating more memories, this time as part of the Boks, and he is excited to work with special talents like Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok, Willie le Roux, and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu in the national set-up.