Munster Rugby fans, meet South African Rassie Erasmus (Donnie Osmond lookalike) who is poised to become the new Munster Director / Head Coach next season tomorrow. The news which has slowly sipped out this afternoon will be an intriguing development in a defining week for Munster who need to beat a rejuvenated Edinburgh outfit in Cork to harbor any ambitions of playing top tier European Rugby next season.
What do we know about Rassie Erasmus?
The Eastern Cape native has represented South Africa thirty-six times in the flanker position including a captaincy stint in 1999. His post-playing career has seen several assignments including a managerial stint with Super Rugby franchise team Central Cheetahs in 2006 who were accepted into the tournament.
Erasmus quickly established coaching and organizational structures within the club in a short space of time and the club’s debut in the tournament was admirable; winning five games, losing eight games but earning seven bonus points in their thirteen games in the tourney. The record may look unremarkable but considering the club was net new, player depth charts non-existent and having to nurture young, untried native South African players, it was a good effort all round. This head coaching performance paved the way for a stint with Western Province.
South African Viewpoint of Rassie Erasmus
The South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) General Manager of High Performance arrived in April 2012, a position created after a root and branch review by SARU on all rugby affairs. Erasmus’s ability to evaluate structures in all facets of the country’s game.
SARU CEO – Jurie Roux
“Rassie is one of the most astute brains in world rugby – his appointment at SARU will ensure we have the best possible leadership at our national teams. He will work with all the national teams, but will be involved with the Springboks while they are in camp,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
“Our aim is to always produce winning teams and Rassie’s main task will be to establish structures to do this. He will be tasked to create a blueprint for South African rugby that can be implemented from junior to senior level, for our mens’, women’s and sevens’ teams.”
“Rassie is one of the most astute brains in world rugby – his appointment at SARU will ensure we have the best possible leadership at our national teams. He will work with all the national teams, but will be involved with the Springboks while they are in camp,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.”
Former South African Head Coach – Heyneke Meyer
“Rassie’s inputs to the Springboks last year were lauded by everyone I spoke to and his coaching pedigree speaks for itself, considering the vast amount of success he’s had at the Cheetahs and Western Province,”
Why is Rassie Eramsus leaving SARU?
Rumors abound that Erasmus was quite unhappy at the political infighting between the union presidents, and the tug of war between SARU president Oregan Hoskins and CEO Jurie Roux. Erasmus clearly is a man who does not entertain meddling from outside parties particularly from the business side. Munster have being warned.
What does Rassie Erasmus bring to the table?
The classic outsider angle. Munster are in need of a fresh face who has zero association or relations with any of the current team management and squad. There is a perception (correct or not) that there is a click mentality at play within the Munster organization.
Erasmus’ first job will be to assess the backroom staff currently at the club. Certain areas of performances have fallen well short of the standard required. The kicking and attacking play shown by the team this year has being ponderous and Erasmus will need to make tough decisions in potentially releasing players and coaching staff from their roles.
Erasmus must also assess all aspects of Munster Rugby operations and implement improvements. Peter Malone will potentially be a person of interest to Erasmus early doors to explain why the academy is not producing players to challenge for first team places when compared with Connacht, Ulster and Leinster?
Erasmus’ vast rugby contacts in SH Rugby will prove invaluable to identify players who can potentially solve team problems. The lack of prop, fly-half and three quarter depth chart options necessitates that the South African and Munster Rugby organization hit the ground running and secure key signings.
Expect the brand of rugby to be more abrasive upfront in order to setup a platform for the half-backs to launch their back line with more time and space. Erasmus is old school South African rugby; expansive rugby comes after the pack dominates their opponent.
Munster Rugby Angle?
The future of Anthony Foley looks vulnerable; the rumors are that Erasmus is both director and head coach of the club. Where does this leave Foley and backroom staff? Expect several casualties with Brian Walsh and Ian Costello likely to be transitioned to other roles within the club.
Munster Rugby by appointing Rassie Erasmus are stating that the current indigenous coaching ticket has failed to perform to the standards required. It is an admission that replacing Rob Penney may have being the wrong decision for the club long term.
The organization are frantically looking to stoke the province fan base with renewed optimism ahead of a crunch weekend fixture against Edinburgh. Low Thomond Park attendances this season has seen the chasm that has surfaced between the supporters and rugby club despite the best efforts of CJ Stander who embodies what a Munster player should be; work rate, bravery and leadership. Several other team members have not followed suit and the rot has set in.