Massive Bok boost as Rassie heads stellar team until 2027

general06 February 2024 12:01
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Rassie Erasmus © Getty/Gallo

Any uncertainty that Springbok fans might have been feeling about the World Cup cycle that their team will head into in July in quest of an unprecedented third successive global title should have been swept away by Tuesday’s announcement of Rassie Erasmus’ management team.

Jacques Nienaber, for so long Erasmus’ right-hand man and the head coach when the Boks completed a back-to-back triumph at last year’s RWC in France, has gone to work at Ireland province Leinster and he will leave a big hole to fill. But Erasmus has signed until after the next World Cup and, looking at the management group that was confirmed and announced on Tuesday, he will have the benefits of both continuity and the injection of new blood and the fresh thinking that comes with that.


As anticipated, former All Black flyhalf and Highlanders and Japan backline/attack coach Tony Brown will join Erasmus’ coaching group and given his brief and the innovation he brought to the Japan game his signing could prove a masterstroke on Erasmus’ part. Brown could bring an exciting new dynamic to the Bok attacking game that could just edge them ahead of the other members of the current international big four - New Zealand, Ireland and France.

Felix Jones did a good job in working with the Bok attack last year, but it wasn’t to coach attack that he was initially employed and he isn’t the specialist that Brown is and which the Boks have been crying out for, something underlined by the fact that Jones is now the defence coach at England.


Former Ireland international Jerry Flannery, capped 41 times for his country between 2006 and 2011, will take charge of the Boks’ defence in the absence of Nienaber and will be able to draw on the defensive nous of Duane Vermeulen when necessary.

The two times World Cup champion No 8 has taken up a role as a roving coach, spreading himself between all the national teams, and apart from his expertise at the breakdowns he was once described as “the second-best defence coach in the world”, behind Nienaber, when Nienaber was the official Stormers coach and Vermeulen was playing a leading role as a Stormers player in 2011.


Erasmus’ left field thinking has brought former top referee Jaco Peyper, who like Vermeulen retired after the recent World Cup in France, into the mix as a fulltime National Laws advisor, an indication that Erasmus will continue to leave no stone unturned in his quest to keep the Boks on top of world rugby.

Erasmus of course moves back into the role of head coach that he fulfilled when the Boks won their third World Cup in Japan in 2019, while there will be further stabilising continuity for the Boks in the form of the coaches who will continue in the roles they fulfilled in the previous World Cup cycle - assistant coaches Deon Davids, Mzwandile Stick and Daan Human, as well as the Head of Athletic Performance, Englishman Andy Edwards. The latter has a key role to play as the national team and the provincial franchises unions balance up their needs from a player management point of view at this time when rugby is effectively a 12 month a year business in South Africa at professional level.

Brown of course is no stranger to Erasmus as he played for the Stormers under Erasmus in 2008, two years after he’d played a similar role of mentoring young players and wearing the No 10 jersey when necessary, under Dick Muir at the Sharks. Flannery was forwards coach at Munster when Erasmus was director of rugby there and can no doubt help Davids with advice or input should in that sphere should it ever be needed.


In all it looks a stellar coaching group well equipped to guide the Boks to an unprecedented third successive World Cup trophy in Australia in 2027. There were fears Erasmus might not stay on until then - he was initially contracted until 2025 - so the fact he will be at the helm for another four years is hugely positive too.

SA Rugby President Mark Alexander was understandably excited when he welcomed the new appointments, saying he was confident that they would add immense value to the team for their playing and coaching experience, under the guidance of Erasmus.

“We are delighted to announce that Rassie Erasmus will take over the reins as the Springbok head coach once again following his success with the team since 2018, and we believe that with the continuity in the coaching structures and the exciting additions, we are in good hands in the ultimate objective of claiming a hat-trick of World Cup titles,” said Alexander.

“Tony Brown and Jerry Flannery are both former international players and bring fantastic coaching experience, and their skills will complement Mzwandile Stick, Deon Davids, and Daan Human.

“It is also a huge coup to have a world class referee in Jaco Peyper as a member of the management team and to retain his expertise in South African Rugby, as understanding the referees and their analysis of the laws is critical to any team’s success.

“We are excited about this Springbok coaching team, and we’ll be thrilled to see how the double World Champions perform once they return to the field for the first time since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in France last year.”


Alexander also welcomed the appointment of Vermeulen: “Duane has tremendous experience as a player and will take that IP into the coaching teams of our other national teams to give them an insight into what it takes to be a champion team.

“It also allows us to extend our own coaching base from within the ranks of the Springboks with an eye to the future,” he added.

Erasmus, who is recuperating from medical procedures after a freak accident, said he was thankful for the trust placed in him by SA Rugby’s leadership to steer the national team once again, and he was equally thrilled about the new appointments.

“It is a massive honour to coach the Springboks, and I am grateful for the trust placed in me,” said Erasmus. “The main difference between the last four years and this season is that I will be more hands-on at the field sessions.

“In my role as Director of Rugby in the last four years I continued to oversee the team structures and strategy in conjunction with Jacques and the other coaches, so it should be an easy transition back into the head coach role. We already had our first coaching session this week at the hospital, and it’s great to see the enthusiasm among the coaches to get the season underway.”


Rian Oberholzer, CEO of SA Rugby, said that the role of Director of Rugby had been mothballed pending a restructuring of the rugby department of SA Rugby to meet the evolving high performance and participation needs of the sport.

The off-field management team will be announced following the team’s first alignment camp.

Springbok coaching team:

Rassie Erasmus – Head coach

Mzwandile Stick – Assistant coach

Deon Davids – Assistant coach

Daan Human – Assistant coach

Tony Brown – Assistant coach

Jerry Flannery – Assistant coach

Andy Edwards – Head of Athletic Performance

Fact files:

Tony Brown:

Date of birth: 17 January 1975

Place of Birth: Balclutha, New Zealand

Playing career:

• 1999-2001: New Zealand (18 test caps)

• 1995-2004: Otago

• 1996-2001: Highlanders

• 2004-2011: Sanyo Wild Knights

• 2006: Hollywoodbets Sharks

• 2008: DHL Stormers

Coaching experience:

• 2016-2023: Japan assistant coach (attack)

• 2017, 2021-2022: Highlanders head coach

• 2014-2016, 2020: Highlanders assistant coach (attack)

• 2012-2014: Otago head coach

• 2011-2012: Panasonic Wild Knights assistant coach

• 2011: Otago assistant coach and player

• 2006-2011: Sanyo assistant coach


• Certificate in fitness management (University of Otago)

Jerry Flannery

Date of birth: 17 October 1978

Place of Birth: Galway, Ireland

Playing career:

• 2005-2011: Ireland (41 test caps)

• 2001-2003: Connacht

• 2003-2012: Munster

• 2003: Ireland Development XV selection

Coaching experience:

• 2020-2023: Harlequins defence and lineout coach

• 2015-2019: Munster forwards coach

• 2013-2015: Munster scrum coach


• Stage 4 assistant coach (Irish Rugby Football Union)

• Masters in Sports Performance (University of Limerick)

• Certified strength and conditioning specialist (National Strength and Conditioning Association)

• Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Geography (University College Cork)