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Springboks' coaching team confirmed

SPOTLIGHT: 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, following the departure of Jacques Nienaber to 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 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.

Another exciting new addition to the Springbok team will see renowned international referee and four-time Referee of the Year, Jaco Peyper – who recently announced his retirement from refereeing – join the team as National Laws Advisor.

Double RWC-winning Springbok No.8 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 welcomed the appointments and said he was confident that they would add immense value to the team for their playing and coaching experience, under the guidance of Erasmus.

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“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.”

Alexander also welcomed 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.

“It also allows us to extend our own coaching base from within the ranks of the Springboks with an eye to the future.”

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Erasmus, who is recuperating from medical procedures after a freak accident, said he was thankful for the trust placed in him by SA Rugby’s leadership to steer the national team once again, and he was equally thrilled about the new appointments.

“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.

“In my role as Director of Rugby in the last four years I continued to oversee the team structures and strategy in conjunction with Jacques and the other coaches, so it should be an easy transition back into the head coach role.

“We already had our first coaching session this week at the hospital, and it’s great to see the enthusiasm among the coaches to get the season underway.”

Key pillars

Erasmus was 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 such as Manie Libbok and Kurt-Lee Arendse, and a number of players coming through at the provincial unions.

“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.

“We have a challenging Test season ahead with a Test Series against Ireland on Saturday, July 6 and 13 in Pretoria and Durban, and we face Portugal for the first time a week later in Bloemfontein in the Incoming Series.

“We then have an exciting Rugby Championship campaign, which features two home tests against New Zealand on Saturday, August 31 and September 7 in Johannesburg and Cape Town, before facing Argentina in Nelspruit on Saturday, September 28.

“With the coaching team finalised, we can now focus on planning for the season and the next few years.”

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 off-field management team will be announced following the team’s first alignment camp.

 Springbok coaching team:

Rassie Erasmus – Head coach

Mzwandile Stick – Assistant coach

Deon Davids – Assistant coach

Daan Human – Assistant coach

Tony Brown – Assistant coach

Jerry Flannery – Assistant coach

Andy Edwards – Head of Athletic Performance

 Fact files:

 Tony Brown:

Date of birth: January 17, 1975

Place of Birth: Balclutha, New Zealand

 Playing career:

  • 1999-2001: New Zealand (18 Test caps)
  • 1995-2004: Otago
  • 1996-2001: Highlanders
  • 2004-2011: Wild Knights

  • 2006: Sharks
  • 2008: Stormers

 Coaching experience:

  • 2016-2023: Japan assistant coach (attack)
  • 2017, 2021-2022: Highlanders head coach
  • 2014-2016, 2020: Highlanders assistant coach (attack)
  • 2012-2014: Otago head coach
  • 2011-2012:  Wild Knights assistant coach
  • 2011: Otago assistant coach and player
  • 2006-2011: Sanyo assistant coach

 Education:

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  • Certificate in fitness management (University of Otago)

Jerry Flannery

Date of birth: October 17, 1978

Place of Birth: Galway, Ireland

 Playing career:

  • 2005-2011: Ireland (41 Test caps)
  • 2001-2003: Connacht
  • 2003-2012: Munster
  • 2003: Ireland Development XV selection

Coaching experience:

  • 2020-2023: Harlequins defence and line-out coach
  • 2015-2019: Munster forwards coach
  • 2013-2015: Munster scrum coach

Education:

  • Stage 4 assistant coach (Irish Rugby Football Union)
  • Masters in Sports Performance (University of Limerick)
  • Certified strength and conditioning specialist (National Strength and Conditioning Association)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Geography (University College Cork)
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