Indications that one of the two current Springbok assistant coaches will succeed Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber after the Rugby World Cup were given a lot more gravitas on Wednesday as SA Rugby confirmed that they had renewed their contracts until after the 2027 World Cup in Australia.
Speculation has been rife that either Deon Davids or Mzwandile Stick would succeed Nienaber, who announced two weeks ago that he would leave the Springbok coaching job to join Irish club Leinster after the 2023 World Cup in France.
Stick, Davids, as well as scrum coach Daan Human and Head of Athletic Performance Andy Edwards renewed their contracts for the next four years. That means all of them will be involved with the Boks for the next four years.
This means the likelihood of an outside coach taking over is diminished significantly, especially as any coach would want to use their own management team if they are appointed.
It does, however, maintain the continuity in keeping the core of the Springbok coaching team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2019 in place.
It was also an indication that SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will also continue in his role until the end of his contract in 2025. There has been speculation that Erasmus may also leave due to a clause in his contract that allows him to do so since the departure of CEO Jurie Roux and renewed interest from clubs abroad.
Another assistant coach - Irishman Felix Jones - has also opted to take up a position with England after the World Cup.
“We are delighted to announce that Mzwandile, Deon, Daan and Andy have signed contract extensions that will see them remain with the Springboks until the 2027 Rugby World Cup,” said Rian Oberholzer, SA Rugby CEO.
“They all come a long way as a coaching team under the guidance of Rassie, as Director of Rugby, and I am confident that the continuity in our coaching staff will bode well for the Springboks for 2023 and the following seasons.
“It was our ambition to retain all the current coaching staff in recognition of the excellent work they have done over the past six years regardless of the outcomes of the Rugby World Cup later this year, and we are pleased that most of them have agreed to continue with the team.
“The planning to confirm a successor in the title role of Springbok coach remains ongoing in the background, while Rassie’s services are tied down to the end of 2025 at the very least.
“With their services secured, it is business as usual, and we would like to wish all the national coaches the best of luck as their preparations pick up for the forthcoming international season and the Rugby World Cup in France.”
The Springboks will face Australia in Pretoria on Saturday, 8 July, in their first test of the season in the abbreviated Castle Lager Rugby Championship, which will be followed by matches against New Zealand at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland a week later, and Argentina in Johannesburg on Saturday, 29 July.
The team will then make the journey to Buenos Aires in August to take on the Pumas before facing Wales and the All Blacks in Rugby World Cup warm-up matches in Cardiff and London in the final build-up to the Rugby World Cup.
South Africa will launch their Rugby World Cup title defence on Sunday, 10 September, against Scotland in Marseille, which will be followed by pool matches against Romania in Bordeaux (17 September), Ireland in Paris (23 September) and Tonga in Marseille (1 October).
The Rugby World Cup quarterfinals will be played on the weekend of 14/15 October, with the semifinals on 20/21 October and the final on Saturday, 28 October.