The South African Rugby Union (Saru) has announced that Rassie Erasmus will be getting the Springboks in shape as the new head coach, with a lucrative five-year deal.
The announcement was made on Thursday, following the sacking of Allister Coetzee in February. Erasmus will now take over the helm, and will combine his coaching duties with his current role as director of rugby at SA Rugby.
"It is a huge task to coach the Springboks, and I am very privileged. I really believe we have the players and the rugby IP [intellectual property] to turn things around and to mount a serious challenge at next year's Rugby World Cup," said Erasmus.
The 45-year-old has 18 tests and just under 600 days left until the IRB World Cup in Japan 2019, and he said "planning has already gone into our Rugby World Cup preparation".
Erasmus, who is a former hard-hitting Bok himself, will face arguably one of his toughest challenges in rugby. What do we know about him?
Erasmus was born in Despatch in Eastern Cape, and was a hard hitter during his Bok years. He has also captained the side – against Australia in Brisbane in 1999.
Total Springbok matches: 39 (36 Tests, three tour matches)
Positions: Flank and eighth man
Test debut: July 5, 1997 vs the British and Irish Lions in Johannesburg, aged 24
Last Test: June 23, 2001 vs France in Durban, aged 28
Win ratio: 27-9-0
After retiring from playing rugby, Erasmus went on to take up a coaching role. In 2004 he was chosen to coach the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
2004: Coach – Toyota Free State Cheetahs (Vodacom Cup).
2005-2007: Head coach – Toyota Free State Cheetahs (won the Currie Cup in 2005 and shared it in 2006 with the Vodacom Blue Bulls).
2007: Technical advisor to the Springboks.
2008-2010: Director of coaching and head coach – DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province.
2011: Technical specialist – Springboks (Rugby World Cup).
2012-2016: SA Rugby general manager: high-performance teams / rugby department.
2016-2017: Director of rugby and head coach – Munster (won Guinness Pro12 Coach of the Season award in 2017).
November 2017: Appointed as director of rugby at SA Rugby.
March 2018: Appointed Springboks head coach.
South Africans took to Twitter to express their opinions on the new coach – as always, opinions were mixed:
Rassie Erasmus to be new Bok coach with staff of Nienaber, Stick, de Villiers & AN other from Munster. Nice when your Rassie & big mates with SARU CEO & have a stake together in BokPulse. No need for due process with HR for any of the appointments. Rassie gets what he wants!— Graeme Joffe (@Joffersmyboy) March 1, 2018
Rassie Erasmus gets 6 year Bok contract. Are there conditions? Win Rugby Championship? Beat B&I Lions in 2021? Win a RWC? A minimum Bok winning %? Transformation targets? To avoid future tears Saru must be transparent as to what they signed him for— Gary Lemke (@GaryLemke) March 1, 2018
Rassie Erasmus confirmed as Bok coach through to the RWC. Now for the powers that be to get out of his way and let him do his job.— Ryan Vrede (@Ryan_Vrede) March 1, 2018
Rassie Erasmus appoints himself as new Bok Coach .#dropthemic— Romans8v28 (@GrantMyburgh2) March 1, 2018
Also, given the role that sport has historically played as a unifier in our country, the timing couldn't be more perfect for Rassie Erasmus to give @kolisi1 the reigns as @Springboks captain in the new chapter heading into #rwc2019 preparation.— Mbasa (@Mbas_) February 18, 2018
Good luck to Rassie Erasmus. Hopefully I can begin watching the @Springboks again.— Cecil (@CecilPadayachee) March 1, 2018
Goodluck to Rassie Erasmus , he'll need a whole new different approach because for the past few years Springboks have been going on a downward spiral. They don't seem like they have a fight in them left and have become predictable— ukhanki (@TboozeSA) March 1, 2018