SA Rugby on Wednesday confirmed that Springbok forwards coach Johann van Graan has been released from his contract and that he will join Irish province Munster as their new head coach.
Van Graan spent the last six seasons as Springbok forwards coach. He was first appointed in the role before the start of the 2012 Test season by former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, with whom Van Graan has enjoyed a close working relationship at provincial and national level.
The 37-year-old Van Graan also worked with Meyer at the Vodacom Bulls, where he was part of the team that won the Vodacom Super Rugby title on three occasions.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux thanked Van Graan for his services to the Springboks.
“Johann has proven himself as an outstanding coach and he has a very bright future ahead of him,” said Roux.
“The Munster appointment is an excellent opportunity for him to test and prove himself as a head coach in a very competitive European club rugby environment.
“I have no doubt that Johann will be successful in his new role and the next chapter of his coaching career. From SA Rugby’s side, we would like to wish him and his young family all of the best.”
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee praised Van Graan for his contribution to the Springboks.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working very closely with Johann for the past two seasons, he is a very good man and I know first-hand why he is so highly rated," he said.
“He is highly competent, extremely hard working and his attention to detail is one of his great strengths. He has a great passion for coaching and I have no doubt that he has all the makings of a very good head coach. I want to wish him well in his new role."
Van Graan is excited about the new challenge and he thanked SA Rugby and the Springboks for allowing him to join the Irish side.
“I was fortunate enough to be part of the Springboks for the past six years and 69 Tests so far, which was an incredible journey up to now,” explained Van Graan.
According to Van Graan, he is indebted to several people at SA Rugby.
“A special word of thanks to Allister Coetzee, Heyneke Meyer, Ian Schwartz (Springbok team manager), Jurie Roux and Mark Alexander (SA Rugby President) for their belief in me and their fantastic support,” he added.
Van Graan described his involvement with the Springboks so far as the highlight of his coaching career. “To the members of the Springbok management, words can’t describe my gratitude towards all of you, especially my fellow coaches, who are all fantastic people," he said.
“The Springboks are a big part of my life and I was blessed to coach some of the best players in the world. The training and matches were important, but even more so, the times we spent together, and the friendships I have made is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
“I will always look back with gratitude, but now I am looking forward with real excitement towards the next chapter of my life. To all the players: ‘Memories are all we have!’”