Jacques Nienaber was named as the new head coach of World Cup winners the Springboks on Friday, but director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will still have a “hands-on” role, including sitting in the coaches’ box on match day. Nienaber, 47, has been elevated from his position as defence coach and takes over the day-to-day management of the team from Erasmus, South African Rugby confirmed on Friday.
“Jacques will be responsible for the test match preparation and day-to-day team operations but, as the director of rugby, I will be with the team for the majority of the time and in the coaches’ box with Jacques at matches,” Erasmus confirmed in a media release.
“I’ll still be responsible for the strategy and results with Jacques taking operational control. The structure allows the director of rugby to spend more time on other aspects of the role.”
Nienaber has been the front runner for the job since Erasmus announced after the World Cup that he would step down as coach. The pair met in the South African army and have worked together previously at South African side the Stormers, as well as at Munster in Ireland Nienaber was praised for tightening up the Bok defence ahead of their World Cup triumph.
“This is a massive honour and responsibility, but I think I have a good understanding of what it entails, especially in this new structure,” says Nienaber.
“I’ve worked with Rassie in a coaching capacity for nearly two decades now and we have a very good idea of how each of us thinks and as I’ll still be reporting to him, our working relationship won’t be changing.
“It’s a big step-up for me in terms of carrying the day-to-day leadership role and there’ll be other adjustments but in many ways, it will also be business as usual.
“We’ve built up a good culture over the past two years and we’ll simply be looking to extend that,” he added.
Mzwandile Stick has been reappointed as assistant coach while former Ireland international Felix Jones will remain with the team but in a new role as a European-based coaching consultant “to improve communication and alignment to address the reality of the number of South African players based on that continent”.
Deon Davids has been appointed forwards coach, taking over from Matt Proudfoot, who left for England, while former Bok prop Daan Human will act as scrum coach.
Nienaber’s first matches in charge will be two tests against Scotland and one against Georgia at home in July.