Rassie Erasmus, the mastermind behind the Springboks’ back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles of 2019 and 2023, has returned to the role of head coach for the next four years.
This follows the departure of Jacques Nienaber to Irish club, Leinster.
Erasmus, who coached the team in 2019 and was Director of Rugby four years later, will lead a modified coaching team in the absence of his old friend Nienaber and attack coach Felix Jones, who has also left the Boks to join England.
Replacing the departed duo will be former Ireland hooker and Harlequins assistant coach, Jerry Flannery, who will be the team’s defence coach, and former All Black flyhalf Tony Brown, who served as an assistant coach for Japan from 2016 to the 2023 World Cup and was also the Highlanders head coach in 2017, 2021 and 2022. His focus will be on attack.
The duo will complete the Springbok coaching team, which consists of Mzwandile Stick, Deon Davids and Daan Human, as well as Andy Edwards as Head of Athletic Performance, who were key coaching staff in 2023 and whose contracts were extended midway through that year. They will now run until the conclusion of the 2027 World Cup in Australia.
Another new addition to the Springbok team will see renowned international referee and four-time Referee of the Year, Jaco Peyper, join the team as National Laws Advisor.
Peyper recently announced his retirement from refereeing.
Double Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok eighthman, Duane Vermeulen, has also been appointed to a roving coaching role with all SA Rugby’s national teams, where he will become the third member of a mobi-coaching unit, joining forces with existing coaches, Franzel September and Bafana Nhleko.
SA Rugby President, Mark Alexander, has welcomed the appointments and expressed confidence that they will add immense value to the team.
“We are delighted to announce that Rassie Erasmus will take over the reins as the Springbok head coach once again following his success with the team since 2018, and we believe that with the continuity in the coaching structures and the exciting additions, we are in good hands in the ultimate objective of claiming a hat-trick of World Cup titles,” said Alexander.
“Tony Brown and Jerry Flannery are both former international players and bring fantastic coaching experience, and their skills will complement Mzwandile Stick, Deon Davids, and Daan Human. It is also a huge coup to have a world class referee in Jaco Peyper as a member of the management team and to retain his expertise in South African Rugby, as understanding the referees and their analysis of the laws is critical to any team’s success.
“We are excited about this Springbok coaching team, and we’ll be thrilled to see how the double World Champions perform once they return to the field for the first time since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in France last year.”
Erasmus is confident about the player depth available both for the Springboks, where several young players came through the ranks in the last few years to become key members of the 2023 team. They include Manie Libbok and Kurt-Lee Arendse.
“One of our key pillars in the last few years was building player depth and we are excited about the talent available to us this season,” said Erasmus.
“Most of the 2023 World Cup-winning players are still available for selection, and several young players now have the luxury of international and World Cup experience, which is invaluable at Test level.”
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari