Erasmus eyes World Cup history with new Springbok contract

Rassie Erasmus signed four-year contract as Springboks head coach on 6 February 2024. File photo

Rassie Erasmus can dream of an unprecedented  third successive Rugby World Cup title after signing a four-year contract as South Africa head coach on Tuesday which includes the 2027 global showpiece in Australia.

The 51-year-old has returned to the head coach role he filled when the Springboks beat England in the 2019 final before moving up to director of rugby for the 2023 triumph over New Zealand last October.

“The main difference between the last four years and this season is that I will be more hands-on at the field sessions,” Erasmus said in a statement issued by SA Rugby.

“In my role as director of rugby I continued to oversee the team structures and strategy in conjunction with Jacques (Nienaber the head coach at the 2023 RWC) and the other coaches, so it should be an easy transition into the head coach role.”

The position of director of rugby has been discontinued pending a restructuring at SA Rugby.

Erasmus added he had already held his first ‘coaching session’ while recovering in hospital after suffering chemical burns in a recent accident at home.

He was discharged from hospital last week.

Erasmus, who stepped back into his old post when Nienaber left after the World Cup for powerhouse Irish province Leinster, will be backed up by a high-profile team of assistants.

Erasmus will be reunited with former Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery as defence coach — he was in charge of the scrum at Irish province Munster during Erasmus’s tenure from 2016-2017.

Former All Black fly-half Tony Brown will be the attack coach.

Brown, 49, played in 18 Tests for New Zealand between 1999 and 2001 and later played for three seasons in Japan and two in South Africa, where he represented the Sharks and Stormers franchises.

He was assistant coach of Japan in two World Cup campaigns and has been head coach of New Zealand’s Highlanders franchise.

Recently-retired international referee Jaco Peyper will fill a newly-created role as national laws advisor.

Duane Vermeulen, who retired from playing after being a loose forward in the World Cup-winning Springbok teams in 2019 and 2023, has been appointed to a roving coaching role with all South Africa’s national teams.

Brown and Flannery complete a coaching team in which Mzwandile Stick, Deon Davids and Daan Human signed contract extensions until 2027 after being part of the World Cup-winning set-up.

The first major challenge for the new coaching team will be two Tests against Ireland, the only team to beat them at the 2023 World Cup, in Pretoria on July 6 and Durban on July 13.

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