Munster name Johan Erasmus as new director of rugby
South African will join on July 1st with Anthony Foley staying with the province
Johan Erasmus during his playing days with South Africa. He has been confirmed as Munster’s new director of rugby on a three-year-deal. Photograph: Getty
Johan Erasmus has been confirmed as Munster’s new director of rugby on a three-year-deal.
The former Springbok international and current high performance general manager of South African rugby will join the province from July 1st.
The 43-year-old, who was capped 36 times by the Boks, will be in control of all first team affairs at Munster as well as the academy system.
The appointment of Erasmus reflects a shift in approach from Munster as they look to modernise their coaching set-up in line with some of world rugby’s superpowers.
And while it signals the end of Anthony Foley’s time in charge of the first team ,Munster have confirmed their current head coach has signed a new contract and will not be leaving the provincial set-up.
CEO of Munster rugby Garrett Fitzgerald has said Erasmus’s role with the province will be an all-encompassing one.
He said: “We think that the whole professional pathway between the senior team and the academy and all of that needs to be tied up more and more all the time.
“The director of rugby in some places, the director of coaching in other places, there’s a lot of different names and there’s no consistency across the world on how this position is being used.
“For us, we want the director of rugby to be an on-field person, a tracksuit person and ultimately, as the statement says, they’re responsible for the performance on the field. That is the way we want the director of rugby and that is from a lot of research, talking to a lot of people and that’s the role we see for this person.”
With Erasmus having main responsibility for first-team affairs it is likely Foley will have a backseat role next season after a difficult year which has left Munster in danger of missing out on Champions Cup qualification.
And while it has been confirmed Foley will not be leaving the province, Munster are yet to reveal what exactly the former number eight’s role will be.
Fitzgerald said: “Anthony will definitely be here next season, he has signed his contract. The model we have looked at, and based our research on, are the ones that have a head coach working with a director of rugby.
“He’s not upset, I met him outside and he didn’t seem angry unless you fellas said something. He was part of the process when we said we would decide to do this.
“He’s probably more upset about the way results have gone and the way things on the field have gone. We made a conscience decision that we would work separately to fill this position to leave the coaches concentrate on what they were doing on the field.
“We didn’t interfere in terms of what they were doing with working with Andy Farrell, it was a separate process. He doesn’t seem upset about it to me, he was quite happy and saw it as a positive movement going forward.”
While Foley looks to be staying with Munster, Fitzgerald admitted the introduction of Erasmus will see the coaching ticket shuffled, with some of the staff leaving the province. Erasmus is believed to want to bring in highly-regarded defence coach Jacques Nienaber from South Africa.
Fitzgerald said: “The other coaches were informed at the time of going looking for the director of rugby that we wouldn’t be able to give them any clarification on their roles until such time as this position was clarified. It’s now clarified as of today.
“In the interim period, Mick O’Driscoll had informed us early on in this calendar year that he wouldn’t be pursuing coaching, he wanted to concentrate on personal business matters he has himself but he does want to pursue a coaching career long-term at some stage. He’s not long out of a playing career but he wants to establish his own business.
“Ian Costello has been offered a position elsewhere which is great for him and will expand his experience and it is god for him to do it. And I want to thank them and wish them luck.”
However, it is yet to be decided who will replace the departing coaches,
Fitzgerald said: “Ultimately it’s our decision at the end of the day, we are the employer. But you work with and see what people propose and what is available. Ultimately it is our decision.”