Cadre deployment – that's the best way to describe the appointment of Rassie Erasmus as the new Springbok coach. After the departure of Heyneke Meyer in 2016, Rassie Erasmus was next in line for the Bok coaching job – even though as a coach, the only trophy Erasmus won was the Currie Cup more than a decade ago.
Certain members of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) executive, however, played the transformation card and wanted a coach of colour. This being South African rugby, there were not many candidates to choose from, and this resulted in the appointment of Allister Coetzee in 2016.
Now with the new Springbok management set-up confirmed, prodigal son Erasmus is in charge of the Bok team until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France on a six-year contract, something some of the Springbok bosses at SA Rugby wanted from day one.
I have to point out a few things about Erasmus. When he was overlooked for the job in 2016, he left South Africa to coach Munster in Ireland, where in a short time he won the Guinness Pro12 Coach of the Season award in 2017. SA Rugby went begging, and at the end of 2017 Erasmus returned to South Africa as director of rugby at SA Rugby.
"Rassie Erasmus will now spearhead a streamlined but experienced Springbok management team until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, SA Rugby confirmed on Wednesday, as the former Springbok captain will combine his Springbok coaching duties with his current role as director of rugby at SA Rugby," the organisation said in a statement.
Poor Allister Coetzee.
The way SA Rugby treated him – the limited resources, including in the selection of his coaching staff and overseas-based players – made his job even more difficult. SA Rugby set him up to fail, and the sad part is that neither his nor the Springbok team's interests were a priority over the past two years.
It will be interesting to see if Rassie will have to make do with the same resources, or if they will bend over backwards to accommodate all his requests – like they did when Heyneke Meyer was appointed in 2012.
According to SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, the changes to the Springbok management team are the result of a very thorough review process of the 2017 season.
The first task awaiting Erasmus will be to prepare the Springboks for a one-off match against Wales in Washington, D.C. and a tough three-Test Castle Lager Incoming Series in June against England, currently ranked number two in the world.
It will be interesting see if the Boks will fly economy class to the U.S. capital under Erasmus, like they had to under Coetzee on their end-of-year tour to Europe in 2017. It will also be interesting to see if Erasmus will be allowed to pick overseas-based players who have not played 30 Tests for the Springboks – something that was forced onto Coetzee as coach.
Coetzee was given the boot for a win percentage of 44 percent. What if the team continues on this downward spiral and continue to have record defeats? Does a performance clause kick in, or will we have to accept the results under Erasmus for the next six years?
According to SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, the changes to the Springbok management team are the result of a very thorough "review process of the 2017 season".
"The Springbok team is our flagship brand and the on-field performances have a direct impact on the business of SA Rugby," said Roux.
"Following a very detailed review process of the 2017 season, I believe that we have managed to assemble a strong and experienced Springbok coaching and management staff. We are looking to see improved performances this season."