Reports from South Africa have suggested that Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus is set to leave the province at the end of the season.
The report, should it turn out to be completely accurate, will come as a huge blow to the Irish province, who had been undergoing something of a revival recently and have already had to adjust with the untimely passing of head coach Anthony Foley last October.
The timing of the report is particularly awkward for Munster, as many potential coaching contracts for the new season have already been sewn up.
Nonetheless, there are a number of options for the Champions Cup quarter-finalists to consider, should Erasmus depart at the end of the campaign – though ideally the preferred option for the Irish side is that the reports turn out to be filled with just as much hot air as the last ones and that the former Springbok stays for the foreseeable future.
The current Munster defence coach, Nienaber followed longtime friend Erasmus to the province at the beginning of the season. The former Springbok defence coach and high-performance manager would probably represent the safest pair of hands to take control, and certainly the one that requires the least amount of upheaval. Most of his roles thus far have been in South Africa but he would probably be the best-placed candidate to continue the current Director of Rugby’s methods.
However, with Erasmus potentially overseeing an overhaul of the Springboks coaching setup, he may yet be offered a role by his colleague in South Africa.
The current Racing 92 defence coach has long been rumoured with a return to his homeland, and with hs current employers set to alter the coaching structure in the summer, he may now feel that the time is right to return to Munster (as it has always been anticipated that he would one day do) and take on a job with more responsibility.
Still revered as a legend by Munster, Ronan O’Gara’s homecoming would probably be a popular appointment were it to happen, but is he ready for it? He seems to be happy and settled in Paris for the time being, so he may yet feel that the time is not right for him to return to Munster – not least because he is not quite at that level yet. The heart might say yes but the head should be telling him not to go near the top job yet.
It was recently confirmed that Ford will be leaving his post as head coach of Toulon at the end of the season. The former England defence coach took over from Diego Dominguez in October of last year and while there was an option for a further year at the Top 14 side, Ford instead decided that one season would be enough for him.
His reasoning for this could be that he wishes to return to the Premiership, having coached at Bath for three years, but depending on the number, and indeed the quality, of offer he receives in England he may instead decide, should an offer be forthcoming, that a coaching spell in Ireland may the way to go. He is, of course, no stranger to these shores having been part of Eddie O’Sullivan’s national side backroom staff in the early part of this century.
The former Ireland international is currently unemployed having left Grenoble with immediate effect earlier this month. Having replaced Fabrice Landreau at the Top 14 side last year, Jackman has had mixed fortunes with the club and left them in the relegation zone.
He is, however, eager to return to coaching in Ireland, and when the Connacht job became available at the beginning of the year the former hooker made it quite clear that he would be interested in speaking to them.
It remains to be seen if the Grenoble experience (or the way it ended at least) would have tainted him somewhat in the eyes of future employers, especially for a high-profile job as this.
Last Sunday, Leicester Tigers won the Anglo-Welsh Cup. 24 hours later, they had replaced their head coach. Granted, the trophy in question isn’t the most high-profile, but letting Aaron Mauger go soon, even if it was only supposed to be on an interim basis, after the only relative success they had been enjoying in some time still seemed harsh.
In any event, the former All Black, a popular figure among the Leicester players and one is enjoying a growing reputation in coaching circles, is now on the lookout for a new challenge and has a decent skill set and level of experience at the highest level despite being at a young coaching age of 36.
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