The new-look coaching ticket under Rassie Erasmus has been garnering praise and delivering improved performances on the field of late, something which has the Springboks looking like genuine contenders for the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.
The quartet of Swys de Bruin, Jacques Nienaber, Mzwandile Stick and Matt Proudfoot have helped turn around the fortunes of the South African national team, after it looked as though they were a diminishing force midway through this latest Rugby World Cup cycle.
With Springbok rugby traditionally strong up front and in defence, the work of de Bruin evolving and fine-tuning the side’s attack has been particularly noteworthy, not least so in their recent performances against New Zealand.
Unfortunately for Erasmus, though, he will have to do without de Bruin at the Rugby World Cup, as the 59-year-old has requested to leave the role due to “personal and medical reasons.”
On the departure of de Bruin, Erasmus said, “Swys made a great contribution to the squad in his time with us and I’d like to thank him on behalf of his fellow management and the players he has worked with in the past 12 months.”
“He brought a fresh perspective to one facet of the game and he’ll be hard to replace. I’d also like to thank the Lions Company PTY for releasing him to us and SA Rugby for supporting his appointment.
“This was not something we were expecting but our planning has been thorough and it’s something we can manage.”
De Bruin, who also coaches the Lions in Super Rugby, was brought into the Springbok set-up in 2018, shortly after he replaced Johan Ackermann as the head coach of the Johannesburg-based franchise. He had previously been the head coach of the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup, as well as holding developmental coach roles at the Sharks.
That experience as a development coach, as well as performance, has certainly seemed to profit the Springboks, whose attacking game has made the similar strides forward that the Lions’ attack did prior to them making three straight Super Rugby finals.
A stress-related illness had seen de Bruin leave the Lions’ tour of New Zealand early back in April.
The 34-year-old Stick will be among the names linked to fill the hole left by de Bruin’s departure, with the former Southern Kings assistant already involved with the group as an off the ball specialist.
Watch: Cheslin Kolbe reflects on the game against Argentina.
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