Thursday 17 October 2019

Munster dismiss reports linking head coach van Graan to role with the Bulls


Munster head coach Johann van Graan. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Munster head coach Johann van Graan. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Munster have played down speculation linking head coach Johann van Graan with a return to South Africa.

Reports in his home country have suggested that Van Graan is on the shortlist to take on a coaching position with Super Rugby outfit, the Bulls.

The 38-year-old has strong ties to the Bulls as his father Barend is the outgoing CEO of the club.

The committee set up to appoint the new coaching positions at the Bulls includes Barend as well as former Munster boss Rassie Erasmus, who recommended Van Graan to the province.

Van Graan began his coaching career with the Bulls as a technical advisor in 2004 before he helped the club win three Super Rugby titles as their forwards and attack coach.

A Munster official last night reiterated the fact that Van Graan is currently contracted to the club and is barely a year into the three-year contract he signed to replace Erasmus.

While there is no suggestion that Van Graan is ready to jump ship in the same manner as Erasmus did, Munster supporters will be concerned having seen this scenario unfold in the recent past.

Just last year, Erasmus activated the IRFU's standard six-month release clause in a bid to get out of his contract with Munster and take over the Springboks.

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If the Bulls were to speak with Van Graan, they would need permission from Munster, which for now does not seem to be on the cards.

The South Africans are seeking a replacement for John Mitchell, who recently left to become England's defence coach, and they could opt for a structure to include a director of rugby and a head coach.

Legendary Springbok lock Victor Matfield is also reported to be on the shortlist along with Van Graan, Gloucester boss Johan Ackermann and the Southern Kings' Deon Davids.

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