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Bath appoint South African defence coach 19 days after urgent call

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Bath have appointed Brent Janse van Rensburg as their new defence coach 19 days after an internal review at the Gallagher Premiership strugglers identified the urgent need for a specialist coach in that area to be recruited. Director Stuart Hooper came into the season happy for head coach Neal Hatley to double job and have responsibility for coaching the defence. 

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However, that decision was a disaster as Bath went on to lose all nine of their matches so far in the 2021/22 Premiership, conceding 297 points and 38 tries in the process, and this malaise continued on into Europe last Saturday when they meekly coughed up 45 points and seven tries to Leinster in Dublin.

Bath have now acted, appointing ex-Sharks coach van Rensburg with immediate effect – although the South African won’t be able to get stuck in on the training ground just yet as he must isolate for ten days following his arrival in the UK.

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Shaun Edwards, the master of the France D, guests on the Le French Rugby show
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Shaun Edwards, the master of the France D, guests on the Le French Rugby show

The Sharks have responded by announcing Etienne Fynn as their Currie Cup head coach and he will be joined by Springbok legend JP Pietersen. What is most interesting, though, about the appointment of van Rensburg at Bath is that his deal lasts only until the end of the current season amid speculation that the Bath management ticket is in line for a major overhaul. 

Munster boss Johann van Graan has recently been linked with taking charge for the 2022/23 season and it emerged on Tuesday morning that he had handed in his notice at Munster rather than accept their two-year contract offer extension.   

A statement on the Bath website said: “Experienced coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has agreed to a short-term deal that will see him complete the 2021/22 season with Bath. Van Rensburg arrived in the UK this week and will isolate for ten days before joining the team. Van Rensburg acquired his knowledge of the game following a coaching career so far spanning over two decades.

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Starting from humble beginnings in high schools, 20 years on the field most recently culminated with the Sharks securing the runners up position in the 2021 Premier Currie Cup and finishing the pool stages of the Super Rugby top of their group in 2020 before cancellation due to Covid-19. At the Sharks, van Rensburg led as defence and kicking game coach and before that held the role of head coach at the Pumas, Griquas, Boland Cavaliers and EP Kings, respectively.”

Bath boss Hooper added: “We made it clear following our review outcome that we intended to bring in a specific defence coach who could add to our group immediately. We are excited to welcome Brent to the club and look forward to the impact he can have on our defence.”

Van Rensburg said: “Bath is a great club with a clear vision and a lot of promise for great rewards to be seen in the future. I am grateful for the opportunity and all the incredible people and experiences that have added huge value to my growth and journey to date. I hope to make a positive contribution to Bath in return and forge some good friendships along the way.”

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