Jacques Nienaber has officially been confirmed as the new Springbok head coach, taking over from SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Nienaber, who served as Erasmus’ assistant coach while the latter was Springbok head coach in 2018-19, will now take the reins in what has been a remarkable journey to the helm for the former physiotherapist.
He will be assisted by Deon Davids, who joins the SA Rugby coaching staff after a period at the Kings, while Daan Human will serve as the Bok scrum consultant.
Mzwandile Stick and Felix Jones, who were part of the Boks’ World Cup-winning coaching staff, remain part of the team’s set-up.
The revised coaching panel will report directly to Erasmus.
According to SA Rugby’s release, Nienaber is promoted from an assistant coach’s role to carry the day-to-day responsibility while Erasmus will continue to direct strategy in a tweaking of a panel that is heavily accented on continuity.
Both Nienaber and Erasmus emphasised that continuity will be paramount for the Boks in 2020.
Stick has been reappointed as an assistant coach while in an innovative inclusion, Jones will continue but in a new role as a European-based coaching consultant.
There are two new appointments with Davids appointed forwards coach while Daan Human – the Vodacom Bulls’ scrum coach – takes up the same role with the Springboks on a shared basis.
Davids, 51, graduates after a tough apprenticeship as head coach of the Southern Kings, firstly in Vodacom Super Rugby (2016-17) and then in PRO14 until parting company with the team at the completion of the last season.
Human, 43, the former Springbok front ranker, will continue to work as the scrum coach of the Bulls during the Super Rugby season but will join the Springboks for the Incoming Series in July, the Rugby Championship and the Outgoing Tour in November.
Stick, 35, retains his place in the coaching team as an assistant coach with special responsibility for skills while the highly-rated Jones (32) – who was a last-minute appointment on the eve of the Rugby World Cup – will be based in Europe to improve communication and alignment to address the reality of the number of South African players based on that continent.
The panel was approved by the Executive Council in December.
‘The coaching team has undergone a refresh but there is a strong theme of continuity and succession planning,’ said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.
‘The recommendation of the Director of Rugby was unanimously accepted as it strongly accented those aspects.
‘Rassie will remain the director of Springbok affairs but this is a deserved opportunity for Jacques to come out of the shadows and provide Test experience to Daan and Deon.
‘We are defending the Rugby Championship title in 2020 and are already looking forward to the visit of the British & Irish Lions in just over 18 months’ time so there is no let-up for the team.’
The Springboks play their first match as reigning Rugby World Cup champions against Scotland on Saturday, 4 July (venue to be confirmed).
Springbok coaching team:
Rassie Erasmus – Director of Rugby
Jacques Nienaber – Head coach
Mzwandile Stick – Assistant coach
Deon Davids – Assistant coach
Felix Jones – Assistant coach
Daan Human – Scrum consultant
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets