But Erasmus explained to a few local journalists on the night of the World Cup final that he would still effectively be running the Bok show
IT’S NOT every day a qualified physiotherapist becomes the Springbok head coach, but that is what has happened to Jacques Nienaber.
This past Friday, the friendly Bloemfontein defence guru was announced as the new man in charge of the world champions, replacing World Cup-winning mentor Rassie Erasmus.
The term “in charge”, though, is loosely used here. As much as Nienaber will be the Bok head coach, Erasmus made it clear at the press conference that the buck would still stop with him as the director of rugby.
Despite Erasmus’ title, he said he would still be in the coaches’ box during Test matches, and be involved in the selection of the team and strategy, while Nienaber would take over the “day-to-day operations”.
What that entails, we will have to wait and see when South Africa face Scotland in July.
But Erasmus explained to a few local journalists on the night of the World Cup final that he would still effectively be running the Bok show.
And fans should be glad to hear that, as it was the former loose-forward who engineered a superb 2019 season, where they lost just once and clinched the Rugby Championship title as well.
Saying that is not a slight on Nienaber’s coaching ability. The man himself – to his credit – pointed out that it was a risk for SA Rugby and his career as a defence coach, as he had not been head coach of any professional team.
But he has been Erasmus’s trusted lieutenant since they met in the army in Bloemfontein. Their paths crossed once more at the University of the Free State, where Nienaber was the physiotherapist and Erasmus the captain. Their relationship took them to the Cheetahs, Stormers, Munster in Ireland and now the Springboks.
Of course, the pressure of being the Bok head coach will take its toll on Nienaber. But it was Erasmus who recommended him to the SA Rugby bosses. And that’s understandable, considering their success last year.
We congratulate Nienaber on his appointment, and wish him everything of the best.