Springboks mull over head coach vacancy as Rassie Erasmus steps up

Jared Wright
Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and head coach Jacques Nienaber during the Rugby World Cup.

Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and head coach Jacques Nienaber during the Rugby World Cup.

SA Rugby are in no rush to name outgoing head coach Jacques Nienaber’s successor after a victorious Rugby World Cup campaign.

After guiding South Africa to their fourth World Cup title, Nienaber is set to link up with Irish URC side Leinster after the celebrations conclude.

His departure leaves a vacancy at the Springboks for a head coach in 2024, with assistant coach Felix Jones also departing to join Steve Borthwick’s England set-up.

Erasmus steps up

However, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander confirmed on Tuesday that the union is not rushing their decision over who will be the next head coach, with SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus taking over in the meantime.

“We will do the wash-up of the tour and talk about where we will go next, but there is no rush; we have the director of rugby [Erasmus] to fill in that role in the meantime,” Alexander said.

“We are taking our time to see the other coaches within the system, and then we will make a decision; there is no rush for us to go ahead and appoint a coach tomorrow.

“We have enough cover for the programmes to continue. We are also looking from within because we are building succession. We are building capacity in the organisation. We will look deep in the organisation, and if we fail to find the right person, we will go outside.”

Erasmus to resume control?

Assistant coaches Deon Davids and Mzwandile Stick have been widely tipped to take over from Nienaber and are still viewed as the frontrunners for the role.

However, Alexander did not rule out the possibility of Erasmus taking charge of the side until the next Rugby World Cup in 2027 in Australia.

“We will see how the succession plan looks, where we are in that planning and based on that we will decide to get a coach next year, the next year or maybe the director of rugby will coach the team until the next World Cup. We are not rushing to do anything,” he added.

Meanwhile, Leinster coach Leo Cullen said that the side were flexible about when Nienaber will arrive.

“He’s got to the end [of the World Cup], so we’ll see what happens after that. We’re pretty flexible for him, the big thing is he has to savour the moment he’s in, it’s a pretty special time,” Cullen said after Leinster’s victory over the Sharks.

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