Monday 16 July 2018

Erasmus departs as Van Graan finishes 'Boks duty

New coach Johann van Graan will take over at the Irish province next week after he concludes his time with the Springboks. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
New coach Johann van Graan will take over at the Irish province next week after he concludes his time with the Springboks. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Munster have confirmed that Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have returned to South Africa, almost two months earlier than was initially expected.

New coach Johann van Graan will take over at the Irish province next week after he concludes his time with the Springboks in Paris on Saturday and he'll be in charge for the first time on Sunday week when the province take on Zebre in Italy.

It had been expected that the three men would work in tandem for a period before the departing duo returned to take up positions with the South African unions, but instead Van Graan will be in sole charge next week. He did spend a week in Limerick last month ahead of the Racing 92 victory, where he observed preparations and was introduced to the players.

Erasmus is returning to take over the performance department at the SARU and has a big job on his hands. His first decision appears to be whether to retain the services of Allister Coetzee at the end of the November Tests with speculation rising that the Springbok coach will be fired on the back of the defeat to Ireland.

It remains to be seen if Van Graan will add to a coaching ticket that is down to two for this week, with Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery minding the shop.

Meanwhile, The English RFU are considering pulling the plug on the British and Irish Cup from next season, citing a lack of interest.

The tournament, contested between the Irish provincial 'A' sides, English second tier clubs and Welsh development sides has been on the go since 2009.

From an Irish point of view, it gives provincial opportunities to up and coming provincial players, but it has never attracted a title sponsor and crowds are small.

It has been criticised by All Ireland League club coaches, but provincial supremos appreciate its value as a bridge between the club game and the senior team.

The approach of the Welsh, who have opted to include representative teams this season, appears to have brought the issue to a head and RFU professional rugby director Nigel Melville has said he does not see much of a future for the tournament.

"We thought that the B&I Cup might go because there's no great appetite from the three sides and it's not really working," he told The Rugby Paper. "There's a lot of travelling involved and the variance of the teams has been very up and down.

"There's not a lot of spectator support for it, or commercial support either, so we want to look at other domestic-based options, probably regionally as well to cut down on the travelling and increase the number of local derbies."

Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport