SA Rugby has appointed Bafana Nhleko as the new head coach of the Junior Springboks, having previously worked as an assistant coach under Chean Roux.
Meanwhile, former Blitzbok player Sandile Ngcobo is now the new head coach of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy.
Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is pleased to see the development of coaches through the existing structures.
‘We’re committed to ensuring there is a development pipeline for our coaches and with Bafana and Sandile, we’ve accomplished that as both have been in our systems for some time.
‘Bafana first joined the Junior Springbok coaching structures as an assistant coach in 2018 and he will now take over the reins from Chean Roux, who will remain involved with our U20 Academy.
‘Sandile, who played for the Blitzboks when they won back-to-back HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series titles in 2017 and 2018, has been assisting Marius Schoeman since he hung up his boots and, with Marius now basically overseeing our sevens programme, it made sense to promote Sandile to the role of head coach.’
Speaking after his appointment, Nhleko was brimming with excitement about the challenge ahead in spite of the recent disruption.
‘Yes, it’s disappointing that we won’t have a World Champs this year, but age-group rugby is a different beast and I’m very excited to get stuck in as soon as possible.
‘I really enjoy the challenges and pleasures of working with the youngsters, especially in South Africa where we have a rich heritage of wonderful junior players.’
Honing his coaching skills in the familiar environment of the sevens programme is paramount for Ngcobo.
‘I see this as a great opportunity to grow as a coach, to keep on working with experienced people such as Neil Powell, Renfred Dazel and Marius, and to help ensure our pipeline of untapped talent providing players for the Blitzboks runs smoothly.’