31 January 2020 | Story Ruan Bruwer | Photo Gallo Images
Three Kovsies in Springbok coaching team
Rassie Erasmus (left), director of rugby at the South African Rugby Union, congratulates Jacques Nienaber on being the new Springbok head coach, the position Erasmus previously filled. Both are former students of the University of the Free State.

The appointment of Jacques Nienaber as the new Springbok head coach means that a former Kovsie will once again coach the Springbok team. Nienaber takes over from Rassie Erasmus, another Kovsie alumnus.

It was also announced that Daan Human, like Erasmus a former Shimla player who went on to play for the Springboks, will be the scrum consultant. Erasmus will continue in the role of director of rugby and will be part of the Springbok coaching team, which means that half of the six coaches in the team can call themselves Kovsies. 

Nienaber joined Erasmus in the Springbok coaching team in February 2018 as defensive coach. At the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Springboks conceded the fewest tries (four) of all the teams. Erasmus will be responsible for the strategy and results, with Nienaber taking operational control. 

It will be the first time Nienaber steps into a head-coach role. He started as physiotherapist with the Shimlas U20 team, before going into strength and conditioning and later becoming a defence coach.“This is a massive honour and responsibility, but I think I have a good understanding of what it entails, especially in this new structure. It’s a big step-up for me. I would not have accepted if I didn’t believe I could be successful,” said the 47-year-old Nienaber.

“I’ve been worked with Rassie in a coaching capacity for nearly two decades now and we have a very good idea of how each of us thinks.” The two first worked together in the Shimlas U20 team, where Erasmus was the captain and Nienaber the physio.

Besides Nienaber, two other former Shimlas are currently in a head-coach role – Neil Powell at the Springbok Sevens team and Franco Smith is coaching the Italian national team.

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