Former Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan says he does not regret vacating his former role following South Africa’s World Cup win in Japan.
Van Graan assisted former Bok coaches Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee for a combined 71 Tests between June 2012 and November 2017, before leaving to take up the head coaching role at Irish province Munster. Incidentally, that was the position that SA Director of Rugby and World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus had just left, before taking over at the Boks.
Speaking to Rugbypass at the launch event for the European Champions Cup competition, Van Graan admitted that he was not disappointed about having missed the chance to be part of the Boks’ victorious campaign. Instead, the Munster coach said that he was elated for the team and members of the coaching staff.
‘It was brilliant. Very glad firstly for South Africa for winning it and what it means to our country, a third World Cup win,’ said Van Graan.
‘Rassie has done a fantastic job with the team, his whole team and specifically with the players. It was an incredible performance and Siya [Kolisi] leading the team. I know a lot of guys who have put a lot of work over the last twelve, eight, and four years to get to this position, so very glad for them.’
The 39-year-old went on to mention how he has been in contact with members of the Bok coaching staff in the days following the historic win at the Yokohama Stadium.
‘I have spoken to most of them, just congratulating everybody. I have seen a good few videos and a few photos of people drinking out of the cup,’ continued Van Graan.
‘Like I said, I would be very close to a lot of those players, also the coaching staff. I congratulated Rassie, Jacques [Nienaber], Felix [Jones], Mzwandile [Stick)] and Matt [Proudfoot], a very good friend mine as well, Annelee Murray [PR manager], the doc [Konrad von Hagen] who has been there for over 200 Test matches. It’s just great to be South African.’
After describing how much he has enjoyed witnessing the development of players like Handre Pollard, Eben Etzebeth and captain Siya Kolisi – who all made their debuts for the Boks during the early stages of his time with the team – Van Graan again congratulated his former colleagues for what they have managed to achieve.
‘Look, the reason why I am in this game is to make a difference in peoples’ lives and to be part of that journey was special,’ said Van Graan. ‘All credit to everybody currently involved in the coaching team, from the players and the management to SA Rugby. It’s brilliant that they won a third World Cup for our country.
‘No, I don’t live my life with regret. I had a fantastic time at the Springboks and I had this opportunity to come to Munster and it’s one I grabbed with both hands. I have loved my time here and you have got to be happy for other people when they achieve success and it’s incredible for South Africa to win the World Cup for the third time.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images