Legendary Springboks first-five Naas Botha has sprung a surprising career move as he takes the reins as head coach of the Indian national men’s team.
Rugby India’s coup of the 61-year-old is a short-term deal which will see Botha take charge of the side through their upcoming third division Asia Rugby Championship campaign in Indonesia later this month, where they will face the hosts and China in a bid to secure promotion into the second division.
Botha will be joined by an all-South African coaching cast, including former Currie Cup winners Jannie Brooks and Christiaan Buitendach, while sevens specialist Ludwiche van Deventer is included as a backs coach.
The quartet of coaches will also oversee India’s high-performance programmes, and Rugby India general manager Nasser Hussain confirmed to ESPN they will help assist with the union’s other national sides, including the women’s national side.
Former India test star and prominent Bollywood figure Rahul Bose is highly optimistic of the influence Botha and his assistants will have on the squad.
“To have someone like Naas Botha, voted the best rugby player in the world four times, and his team working with us is an extraordinary privilege,” Bose told ESPN.
“Naas had been traveling in and out of India for a while now, and we’ve been in touch with him through the entire period; and like most great rugby players, he’s more than willing to serve the sport and share his expertise and knowledge.
“He’s majorly doing this for the love of the game.
“Where else will you have a living legend come in unless you offer maybe astronomical fees?”
Currently ranked 81st in the World Rugby rankings, India have just 5795 registered rugby players from a population of more than 1.34 billion.
Botha, whose role with South African broadcaster SuperSport will be unaffected by his appointment in India, played 28 tests for the Springboks between 1980 and 1992, scoring a then-South African record 312 test points.
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