New Springbok Coach Rassie Erasmus is the toast of his home town, Despatch, in the Eastern Cape. The community of this small dorpie between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage is closely-knit, bound together by rugby and religion.
It is also the home of another Springbok great, Danie Gerber.
Former Eastern Province hooker, Coenie Strumpher, who coached Erasmus during his days at Despatch High School says he never doubted the new Springbok coach potential as a leader.
“Rasie was a very talented rugby player and to move him from eighth man to fly half it was just a move he was very passionate (about). He was so talented. It didn’t matter in which position he played.”
Erasmus will spearhead a streamlined but experienced Springbok management team until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The former Springbok captain will combine his Springbok coaching duties with his current role as Director of Rugby at SA Rugby.
The 45-year-old Erasmus takes over the national coaching duties from Allister Coetzee, who has been in charge of the Boks for the past two years.
His three assistant coaches will be Jacques Nienaber, Pieter de Villiers and Mzwandile Stick, while Aled Walters will join the management team as Head of Athletic Performance.
Nienaber previously served as a Springbok defence coach for a short stint under Coetzee before joining Erasmus at Munster in 2016.
De Villiers worked as scrum consultant under former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer from 2012 to 2015, while Stick was a member of the 2016 Springbok coaching staff before his involvement with the Junior Springboks in 2018.
Walters, who has considerable international experience gained from working in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, joins the team from Irish side Munster, where he was their Head of Athletic Performance.