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Springbok legend reportedly lined up for key coaching role

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Wednesday Nov 29, 2023

South African Rugby have reportedly hired recently retired Springbok legend SA Rugby has reportedly appointed Duane Vermeulen as their new defence coach. The decision comes shortly after Vermeulen’s announcement of retirement from Test rugby, paving the way for him to take charge of the Springboks’ defensive strategies.

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With Jacques Nienaber recently taking the reins at Leinster Rugby, the need for a reshuffle in the coaching setup arose. While Nienaber was previously overseeing the Boks’ defensive tactics, the talented Vermeulen, affectionately known as “Thor,” is poised to step into this crucial role.

While an official announcement might be pending, insiders suggest that the decision is already in place, marking Vermeulen’s transition from the playing field to a coaching role. The move is being hailed as a strategic masterstroke, considering Vermeulen’s extensive practical experience and prowess in defensive play.

Vermeulen’s coaching aspirations became evident during the Rugby World Cup, where he was part of the coaching box during the Boks’ clash against Ireland. His on-field achievements, including two Rugby World Cup victories and a memorable Man of the Match performance in the 2019 final against England, underscore his defensive acumen.

The reported delay in the official announcement hasn’t dampened the anticipation surrounding this decision. Vermeulen’s strategic mindset and familiarity with the Springboks’ setup position him as an ideal candidate to fortify their defensive strategies in 2024.

As Vermeulen steps into the coaching role, Rassie Erasmus, the head coach, will also be tasked with finding a replacement for departing assistant Felix Jones, who recently joined England.

Erasmus’s preference for individuals with a longstanding connection to SA Rugby suggests that the new appointment will need to fill substantial shoes, given Jones’s role in the team’s recent triumphs, including success in the British & Irish Lions series and the defence of their Rugby World Cup title.

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The transition of Vermeulen from a revered player to a key coaching figure reflects a calculated move by SA Rugby to maintain the formidable defensive legacy that played a pivotal role in the Springboks’ recent achievements. The official announcement is eagerly awaited, marking the next chapter in Vermeulen’s illustrious rugby journey.

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