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Tony Brown now open to coaching All Blacks after turning down 2019 offer

By Ned Lester
Tony Brown, attack coach of the Springboks. Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images

When Sir Steve Hansen stepped down as All Blacks head coach after claiming third place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, there were a number of candidates for the job, but one who turned down a role was new Springboks assistant Tony Brown.


Brown, the former Highlanders head coach and Japan assistant, spoke to media following the Springboks’ alignment camp and reflected on his 2019 decision to return to Japan with long-time coaching comrade Jamie Joseph when an All Blacks gig was on the table.

The defending World Champions’ new attack coach also spoke of his long-standing admiration for the Springboks.

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“When I got asked to coach the All Blacks five years ago, for me, it just didn’t feel right,” he said. “I obviously had a really good relationship with Jamie Joseph and if he had got the All Black coaching job, then 100 per cent I would have been in with him.

“It just didn’t feel right for me to coach with the other guys going for that job, so Jamie and I went back to Japan to coach Japan.

“Now he’s not coaching any more and as soon as Rassie rang me, I said yes. I’ve got so much respect for what Rassie’s done with South Africa, I’m just excited to be part of it, watch him operate, learn him and all the other coaches.

“One day, maybe I might coach the All Blacks – I don’t know. I just want to be part of this coaching set-up and the Springboks over the next four years.”



Brown played in South Africa under Rassie Erasmus with the Stormers in 2008, a point in which the two began their relationship and appreciation for each other’s mind for the game.

Both men’s coaching careers have since flourished and Brown comes into the Springbok environment as Erasmus looks to introduce diverse perspectives for the next era of South African rugby, ultimately chasing a three-peat of World Cup wins.

“Springboks have got a massively proud history, and for me to come in and try to be part of that and add to that is a huge honour,” added Brown. “The way the Springboks play is always admired around the world.

“I’ve always been a big admirer of the way South African teams play, especially the Springboks. My favourite player was [former Springboks first-five] Henry Honibull and I probably tried to play the game that way as well.


“What the Springboks have done over the past two World Cups is massively impressive. The way they are able win big games and key moments in those games has been a pleasure to watch, and for me, it’s just exciting to be part of that.”


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paul 99 days ago

Be good to see SA make better use of their backs outside no.10. Got the talent. Just need the desire. Someone make rugby exciting again please. Be done with this mauls and penalty kicks boredom.

Chris 99 days ago

Have a feeling that our best backline play is about to be unlocked. Great coach , respect for thinking out of the box by both Rassie and Tony in this professional era.

Rugby 100 days ago

Henry Honiball was an excellent flyhalf.
Good luck Brownie, am interested in what you would bring.

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Flankly 12 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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