Long after Heyneke Meyer was either pushed or jumped from his position as head coach of South Africa, it is expected that the SARU will finally make a decision at the end of the month on their new head coach.
After a failed World Cup, in which they crashed out to New Zealand in the semi-finals, as well as Meyer’s unimaginative game plan and lack of transformation, several provincial unions made it clear they would not back Meyer for a contract renewal.
According to the SARU, candidates for the job must have an at least 60% win rate at the level of Currie Cup or higher – which is no small feat.
Here are some names that the SARU has been rumoured to - as well as should be – considering ahead of naming the next Springboks coach.
Remember – the SARU currently has employs a “no foreigners” policy for their head man. Any aspiring Springbok head coach who is not from SA can only rise as high as assistant coach or “coaching consultant”, a la Eddie Jones.
The SARU has been fairly mum on whether or not the most popular choice for the job – Allister Coetzee – is also the popular choice among the SARU General Council.
‘Toetie’ Coetzee has held head and assistant coaching jobs all over the country, most famously with the Western Stormers from 2008-2015 at both Currie Cup and Super Rugby level.
He currently coaches the Steelers in the Japanese Top League, where he has gotten them off to a 5-2 start in his first season in charge.
The elephant in the room of course is that Allister Coetzee is black – and while South Africa have had a black head coach before (Peter de Villiers, 2008-2011), it remains to be seen whether politics will get in the way of a good candidate.
If the SARU place as much faith in Currie Cup results as they claim to, then Johan Ackermann is the man they’re looking for.
The SARU themselves hand-picked Ackermann as Coach of the Year in 2014, his first year of head coaching at the Golden Lions at CC and SR level. A deserved win, considering he also won the Currie Cup that year.
Ackermann would be another popular choice among the fans, as unlike Coetzee, he played for SA as a lock, amassing 13 caps between 1996-2007.
One of the better up-and-coming head coaches in the country, Ackermann may need to show a little more provincial coaching experience before being thought of as a Springboks coach.
In his five years coaching the Natal Sharks at Currie Cup level from 2008-2012, John Plumtree’s men appeared in the final four out of five times, winning twice and losing twice.
Whilst his provincial rugby coaching record is mighty impressive, and extends further than his success with Natal, he is yet to coach at a higher level – six years in Ranfury Shield and five in CC is all he boasts.
Plumtree is currently the forwards coach in Wellington - Chris Boyd’s Super Rugby side that reached the final in just Plumtree’s first year back on Kiwi soil and in the capital.
He was last year considered for the Stormers job before it was given to Robbie Fleck, so his name is highly regarded. Would the SARU reach for Plumtree given his lack of high-level rugby success? I doubt it.
Until a few days ago, word was that Rassie Erasmus was somewhat surprisingly leading the race for the position of head coach of the country he once captained.
Since he retired as a player, Erasmus has seen little time on the sidelines, coaching the Central Cheetahs for their first two years in Super Rugby.
However, he has seen plenty of success in backroom appointments, as director of rugby at the Stormers and head of the high performance unit for the South Africa.
However, if word is to be believed, what would be a very ambitious hire will not eventuate, as Erasmus is not interested in the roll.
Loved and hated by many, Frans Ludeke is of course best known as the long-time Northern Bulls coach at both Super Rugby and Currie Cup level.
However, there is more to his resume than his two SR titles and one CC triumph with Norths – he has also had previous appointments at the Lions, SWD and was an SA assistant in 2000.
He most previously enjoyed a roll with Fiji for the 2015 Rugby World Cup as set piece coach – an area of expertise he has no shortage of knowledge on.
Although his name has not been mentioned in public in connection with the job, it would very clearly be a match made in heaven.
If Rassie Erasmus wasn’t left-field enough, I present to you, Alan Solomons. Solomons arguably has the most coaching and backroom experience on this list, of course experience being what test rugby is all about.
He has been head coach at the Stormers, Ulster, the Barbarians, Northampton, the Kings and currently Edinburgh, assistant at the Stormers, the Springboks, and the Baa-Baas, and director of rugby at the Kings.
His most recent claim to fame is a Challenge Cup Final with Edinburgh last year, where they narrowly lost to Gloucester 19-13.
At age 65, he may baulk at the thought of making his test match coaching debut, and as far as most have heard, he is not on the SARU’s radar.
However, his many years of rugby experience in all asepcts certainly wouldn’t go amiss in the highest stakes games of rugby there are.