Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Tuesday, 06 February 2024 15:02

Rassie Erasmus back as Springbok coach, Flannery and Brown added to technical team.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

SA Rugby on Tuesday confirmed major changes to their coaching team, with Rassie Erasmus now officially signed on as head coach until the end of the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia. 

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 Nienaber and attack coach Felix Jones, who has left to join England.

Replacing them will be former Ireland hooker and Harlequins assistant coach Jerry Flannery, who will take charge of the team’s defence, 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 2023 until the conclusion of the 2027 World Cup in Australia.

Double RWC-winning Springbok eighthman, Duane Vermeulen, has also been appointed to a roving coaching role with all SA Rugby's national teams.

"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," SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said in a statement.

"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."

Alexander was also delighted with the appointment of Vermeulen.

"Duane has tremendous experience as a player and will take that IP into the coaching teams of our other national teams to give them an insight into what it takes to be a champion team," he said.

Erasmus, meanwhile, remains in hospital as he continues to recover from a freak accident last week in which he sustained severe chemical burns. 

"It is a massive honour to coach the Springboks, and I am grateful for the trust placed in me," said Erasmus.

"The main difference between the last four years and this season is that I will be more hands-on at the field sessions. 

Rian Oberholzer, CEO of SA Rugby, said that the role of Director of Rugby had been "mothballed" pending a "restructuring of the rugby department of SA Rugby to meet the evolving high performance and participation needs of the sport."

The Springboks are scheduled to play their first Test of the year against Ireland on 6 July at Loftus.