Springbok assistant Van Graan to coach Munster

Springboks forwards coach Johann van Graan has been released from his contract to join Munster,Picture: @Springboks

Springboks forwards coach Johann van Graan has been released from his contract to join Munster as head coach, South Africa Rugby and the Irish province announced on Wednesday.

Van Graan has been part of the South Africa coaching set-up since 2012, working under head coaches Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee.

“I was fortunate to be part of the Springboks set-up for six years and 69 Tests and it was an incredible journey,” Van Graan said in a statement.

“Some of the words I associate with Munster Rugby are passion, excellence, ambition and integrity, and I feel very fortunate to be handed this opportunity.

Van Graan still needs to be given a work permit but this appointment had been widely expected.

“Rugby was the focal point of this process, and in Johann we are getting a recognised rugby intellectual with a proven track record and extensive experience working with a national side,” said Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald.

The 37-year-old son of a Pretoria-based senior rugby official experienced highs and lows while part of the Springboks coaching staff.

South Africa lost by just two points to greatest rivals New Zealand in a 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final thriller in London.

But the debut season of Coetzee last year was disastrous with eight losses in 12 Tests — a calendar-year record for the Springboks.”Johann is highly competent, extremely hard working and attention to detail is one of his great strengths,” said Coetzee.

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux added: “The Munster appointment is an excellent opportunity for Johann to prove himself in a very competitive European environment.”

Van Graan moving to Munster continues a South African link with the Limerick-based team as Johan “Rassie” Erasmus is director of rugby there until December, when he returns home.

Munster have been European champions twice and runners-up twice and won the Pro12 (now Pro14) competition for Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh sides three times.