‘There’s a twist’ – Springbok hopeful rejects South African homecoming

Jared Wright
Gloucester Rugby's Ruan Ackermann tackled by London Irish's Chunya Munga during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester

Gloucester Rugby's Ruan Ackermann tackled by London Irish's Chunya Munga during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester

Ruan Ackermann will not be returning to South Africa after signing a contract extension with Premiership club Gloucester.

The powerhouse forward’s contract was expiring at the end of the current season and looked set to return to South Africa but has instead opted to remain in the West Country.

The Sharks and his former employers, the Lions, were two of the teams that Ackerman was reportedly in talks with, but ultimately, he decided to remain at the club he joined back in 2017.

Ruan Ackermann re-signs with Gloucester

“I miss playing in South Africa, I see the stadiums are getting more and more full,” Ackermann told Afrikaans newspaper Rapport in January.

But on Thursday, Gloucester and Ackermann revealed that the player had changed his mind.

“There is a little twist, I can’t see myself leaving yet, I want to stay on, so we are staying on,” he said in an interview confirming his extension.

He added: “The players, the staff, the people, the coaches, everyone has been really good to me. It’s basically like a second home, so that’s what makes things, when it comes to a decision, so tough.”

His re-signing with the Premiership side means that Ackermann will head into his eighth season at Gloucester this year, having arrived along with his father Johan, who was head coach at the time.

The Kingsholm favourite is consistently one of the top players in the Premiership for carries and metres made and was voted Gloucester Rugby’s Players’ Player of the Season for 2021/22.

His ability to play across the back-row, and even at lock, is a huge asset for the Cherry and Whites, with director of rugby, George Skivington, hailing the club’s ability to retain his services.

“There was lots of competition for Ruan’s signature, so it’s a huge coup for the club,” Skivington said.

“Ruan has been fantastic for us and to have a player of his quality committing his future to the club is a massive statement of trust in the direction we are heading in.

“Everyone at Gloucester Rugby is delighted that Ruan will be in Cherry & White next season.”

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International ambitions

Ackermann is qualified to represent England through residency and his potential move back to South Africa was seen as an attempt to better his chances of cracking the Springboks squad.

In fact, he was reportedly on the cusp of making the Red Rose squad before injury struck and ruled him out of the World Cup and a debut in the England jersey.

However, he still hopes to make it on the international stage.

“I just want to play at the highest level, it’s a dream of mine, but the Springboks are my first choice,” he said in an interview in January.

“I feel like I have been here [England] long enough to prove myself, and that chance or option never came. I think they have their eyes on other players.”

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