Springbok legend explains his decision to 'rush' into coaching
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: Jaque Fourie’s exploits as a player is the stuff of legend. As a coach, he is a neophyte, who has barely dipped his toe into the pool.
Late last week, Fourie was unveiled as the United States’ defence coach heading into World Cup in Japan later this year.
He will be an assistant to fellow South African Gary Gold, the head coach of the USA Eagles.
He has not held any formal coaching positions – other than helping out at the Western Force during their participation in an exhibition tournament, World Series Rugby, last year and at the Kobe Steelers in Japan, where he helped with the defence until his retirement.
During his time as a player, Fourie also participated in coaching clinics.
In an exclusive interview with @rugby365com, Fourie confirmed that he had prefatory discussions with Gold before his move to the Force.
It took a while for Gary Gold to get approval from the USA Rugby bosses and in the interim Fourie joined up with the Western Force.
At the end of 2018 Gold renewed his discussions with Fourie and the 72-times capped Bok signed on the dotted line.
“At this stage of my coaching career, to be able to go to a World Cup, is great,” Fourie said of his move to the United States.
“I could have stayed at the Western Force for another season, but I like to test myself and broaden my horizons.
“To coach at international level and help Gary [Gold] at the Eagles was the logical step.”
Fourie said he is looking forward to returning to Japan after two years away – where he played for five years at the Wild Knights (12 games) and Kobe Steelers (52 games).
“It will be a great World Cup,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “The Japanese don’t do things on a small scale, they go big.”
The USA Eagles are not one of the fancied teams in the World Cup – where they face England, France, Argentina and Tonga in a very tough Pool C.
“There are always upsets in the World Cup,” Fourie said.
“We all know what Japan did to South Africa in 2015.
“A large number of the United States players do play abroad. I feel it is a great group of players. With hard work, we will be competitive.”
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Fourie said going from playing straight into coaching at international level is not such a big issue.
“I played for about 14 years. There is no better way to take that experience into coaching.
“There is a suggestion that you can’t go straight from playing to coaching, but I feel there is no better way to take that [experience], 14 years of professional rugby, into coaching.”
Fourie said there will always be “structures in place”, but you have to be flexible enough to adjust for what happens in the game.
“I am a big believer in the ‘rush defence’. The faster you can take up the line and apply pressure on the attackers, forcing them to make decisions [under pressure], the better it is for the defence.
“You line has to be solid and you must make your tackles.”
Fourie will fly to the United States on Tuesday and will join the Eagles for their first game of the Americas Championship against Chile on Saturday, February 2.
By Jan de Koning