by Tony Leen
RASSIE Erasmus will leave Munster to oversee a major overhaul of South African rugby shortly, and will bring his defence coach Jacques Nienaber home with him, Afrikaan media reported last night.
As South African Rugby's director of rugby, Erasmus will be tasked with getting the Springboks back on the same level as the world champion All Blacks.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will report to Erasmus, a report in the Afrikaans weekly newspaper, Rapport,states, adding that his departure from the Irish province now appears a "done deal."
The report cites insiders who describe Erasmus' job spec: The pitch will be his office, he will not wear a tie and jacket. When he reports to SARU "in July or August", his mission statement will be "to give Springbok rugby the aura that will attract spectators and sponsors, and who will overcome opponents."
Though their 3-0 test series win over France has added a little buoyancy to Springbok rugby, there is a realisation at administrative level that there is still a big gap to bridge to the All Blacks.
Erasmus was the chief executive of SARU's high-performance unit (in 2013 and 2014) and general manager of the rugby department (2015 and 2016) before he assumed the reins in Munster, overseeing an impressive turnaround in the province's fortunes last season.
The 'Rapport' insight also claims that Erasmus' original plan was to remain in Munster until 2019, but pressure was brought to bear last year after South Africa won only four of their 12 Tests in 2016. "Saru has been trying to bring back Erasmus since December 2016," it adds.
"Negotiations were very sensitive and several times threatened to derail. (But) Erasmus is keen to play a bigger role in Springbok rugby and it provoked him to return. He informed Munster two months ago that he resigned. According to his contract, he has to stay for another four months before he can return."
The report says that "due to his strong ties with Munster and the success he has achieved at the province over the past 12 months, Munster is likely to release him as soon as Erasmus has found a suitable substitute for his position. He will then have the opportunity to explain his decision to the Munster players."
It also says that Erasmus could be on board before the Springboks' first Rugby Championship Test on August.
"His long-standing right-hand and defensive coach, Jacques Nienaber, is on his way back with him."