‘No place for mediocracy’ – Jacques Nienaber reveals reasons for Springboks departure

Colin Newboult
Former South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber in press conference.

Former South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber in press conference.

Jacques Nienaber has discussed why he swapped the Springboks for Leinster after signing a deal ahead of the 2023/24 season.

It was a move which surprised some, given that he was going from international to provincial rugby, but it made perfect sense to the South African.

Nienaber was part of the coaching team during the 2019 Rugby World Cup before he was promoted following that tournament.

He then guided the Springboks to the 2023 World Cup title and will now look to take those experiences to Dublin.

Massive challenge

“That was part of the challenge, to come into an environment where there’s no place for mediocracy,” Nienaber told the Leinster website.

“When you look at Leinster from the outside, the product they deliver on the pitch, it’s clear that it’s not a place for mediocracy. That’s the challenge that you want.

“Not that I had any of that in South Africa, but for a change-up, getting our family over here and for some more personal reasons, that’s the reason we made the move as a family.

“From a work perspective, the challenge is massive. Both the demands from the coaches and the players as well, they are top international players that have won a lot of accolades, they’ll definitely keep you on your toes.”

Nienaber knows Ireland well having spent a season with Munster under Rassie Erasmus before joining the Springboks after Erasmus became South Africa director of rugby.

No excuses

“It always helps coming back to a country, we were open and honest, me and my family, about our time in Ireland. We really enjoyed living in Ireland. Life happened and we moved back,” Nienaber added.

“Now we’re back, it’s a nice challenge with Leinster.

“A lot of people might ask: ‘why leave international rugby for a club job’? But, the challenge with Leinster is massive. The expectations are massive at Leinster.

“You certainly can’t turn to the squad and give any excuses, in terms of the players, the skill set, the athleticism we have to work with. The demands will be massive and that’s why it’s a nice challenge for me, personally.”

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