Rassie unlikely to return to SA

Rassie Erasmus appears increasingly unlikely to return to South Africa to take up a role with SA Rugby. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Towards the end of March, there was ongoing speculation that negotiations between SA Rugby and Erasmus were at an advanced stage as they sought to bring him home to reportedly fulfill a director of rugby type role. There was also a suggestion that he could possibly even take over from Allister Coetzee, should he be axed after the June series against France.

However, SARugbymag.co.za understands that there are still a number of stumbling blocks relating to certain conditions for his return that would make an imminent homecoming unlikely.

Although it's believed that there is a clause in his Munster contract that could have allowed him to take up an offer from SA Rugby, he would need to give his Irish club due notice.

Erasmus has also repeatedly raised his concerns around the politics in SA rugby, and has quickly become an extremely popular figure in Munster, where he is only one year into his three-year contract.

The former Cheetahs coach led Munster to this past weekend's European Champions Cup semi-finals, and it was after this match that hooker Niall Scannell said the players had been reassured by Erasmus that he was going nowhere fast.

'There's been a lot speculation, but he [Erasmus] clarified to us a few weeks ago. And I'll be honest with you, at the time it was reassuring to hear because himself, Jacques [Nienaber], Felix [Jones] and Fla [Jerry Flannery], they're a top quality coaching ticket and they've done so much for us.

'Obviously Axel [Munster's late head coach Anthony Foley] had a big hand in that, but if you just look at the turnaround we've had in nine, 10 months. I can't speak highly enough for what a good coach Rassie is.'

Following Saturday's defeat to Saracens, Erasmus also expressed his belief that Munster could close the gap between them and the English club within the next year.

'It's brilliant that he's staying around,' Scannell commented. 'It's brilliant for our club and it's brilliant for Irish rugby. The confidence it's given us, it's something I haven't had from a coach before.

'He comes into the changing room afterwards saying: look, they're further along their curve and they were the better team today. You trust him and you believe that we will evolve and we will get there and that's hugely reassuring that he's staying around.'

Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Getty Images

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