Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It is a phrase that may well hold true for the latest grapevine dispatches surrounding the Bulls coaching saga – report Rugby365.
The additions to the shortlist of candidates are arriving as fast as contenders drop out of the race.
The latest name to be added to the ever-changing shortlist to replace John Mitchell – who left to join up with Eddie Jones on the England panel – is former Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan.
A report in Wednesday’s Irish Independent suggests Van Graan is on a shortlist to replace Mitchell. It was immediately met with “denials” by Munster officials.
Van Graan’s name was not the only on the Independent‘s version of the shortlist. Some of those sound credible, others far-fetched.
They include former Springbok lock Victor Matfield, Gloucester’s South African coach Johann Ackermann and the Southern Kings mentor Deon Davids.
Another name to emerge from the South African grapevine is former Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron.
Rumours abound, while a handful of candidates have already made themselves ‘unavailable’ – including the likes of John Dobson (Western Province); Jimmy Stonehouse (Pumas), Fourie du Preez (Bulls) and Swys de Bruin (Lions).
What gives the Van Graan rumour some credibility is his long history with the Bulls.
Van Graan – whose father Barend is the outgoing CEO of the Bulls – joined Munster last November, has signed a contract as coach until June 2020. Van Graan moved to Munster from his role as Springboks forward coach, where he played a key role in developing the forwards and attack for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, when South Africa collected the bronze medal.
In 2009 and 2010 he secured Super Rugby honours with the Bulls, as forwards and attack coach. Munster was rocked last year with the departure of the province’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus mid-season.
Erasmus, who returned to South Africa to take up a position as DOR and Bok coach, is now intimately involved in the selection process for the next Bulls coach.
A Munster official told the Independent that Van Graan is barely a year into the three-year contract he signed to replace Erasmus.
If the Bulls were to speak with Van Graan, they would need permission from Munster.
Tell us what you think about the Rugby World Cup and you could win £100