Is this another surprise winner by Rassie Erasmus?
The Springbok coach, who turned a stuttering team around in less than two years following the poor results under Allister Coetzee in 2017, has appointed a former co-coach at Munster to fill the vacancy by the withdrawal for medical reasons of Swys de Bruin.
SA Rugby reports that Erasmus completed his Rugby World Cup coaching team on Wednesday with the confirmed appointment of defence consultant Felix Jones, a former Irish international.
Jones, a fullback and sometimes wing, played 90 matches for Munster, where Erasmus was Director of Rugby before taking over as head coach after the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley.
Jacques Nienaber, SA Rugby’s high performance coach who is now the man who looks after the Springboks defence, also coached at Munster with Erasmus and Jones.
♦ Jones, after finishing as a player in 2015-16 joined the Munster coaching team ahead of the 2016–17 season as a technical coach.
After helping Munster reach the semi-finals of the 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup and the 2017 Pro12 Grand Final, he signed a two-year contract extension with the province which saw his role expand to backs and attack coach. As well as coaching with Munster, Jones also assisted Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt with the national team’s tour of Japan in June 2017.
He stopped playing at the age of 28 and went straight into coaching with his last province, Munster, where he helped the team to three consecutive Heineken Cup semi-finals before leaving the province
in June this year.
♦ Jones will take on a new role and not be a straight swap for attack coach, De Bruin, according to SA Rugby Communications.
“I spoke to the players after Swys decided to step down and the consensus was that we didn’t want a new attack coach,” said coach Erasmus, also the Director of Coaching at SA Rugby.
“The feeling was that bringing in someone in that role now with new ideas now would be destabilising at this last stage of the preparations.
“But they were interested in having more analysis of defensive patterns and structures to assist in breaking down the opposition.”
Erasmus said that he was fortunate that Jones was available at a time when most coaches were already engaged at club or international level.
Jones, 32, won 13 caps for Ireland at fullback or wing during a ten-year playing career with Leinster and Munster. He was part of Ireland’s 2015 Six Nations title-winning squad and also represented his country at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in 2009.
He stopped playing at the age of 28 and went straight into coaching with his last province, Munster, where he helped the team to three consecutive Heineken Cup semi-finals before leaving the province earlier this year.
“Felix will bring a fresh eye to our analysis and planning and I am looking forward to his input,” said Erasmus.
“He is a real student of the game and I believe the players will benefit from his contribution.”