Boks make coaching staff U-turn

The team had hoped that referee couch Nigel Owens would join them for the upcoming World Cup, but he has other obligations.

The Springboks have confirmed that they will not be continuing with plans to hire a referee coach during the World Cup, after being turned down by Nigel Owens.

Erasmus was eager to bring Owens on board during the upcoming World Cup in France, where the Springboks will look to defend the title they won in 2019.

While Owens’ exact role was not specified, it is understood that he would have been involved in helping the Boks build stronger ties with World Rugby and the World Cup match officials, as well as assisting the team with adapting to new interpretations of the law.

However, Owens, who is involved with the training of referees for World Rugby, turned Erasmus down as he did not have the capacity to travel with the Boks to France.

During a media briefing at SA Rugby headquarters in Cape Town, Erasmus said that while he was disappointed not to have secured Owens’ services, he would not be looking for a replacement.

“Nigel was the [perfect] fit, and, unfortunately, he’s not available. But in our engagement with Nigel, there were a lot of discussions on what we need and how we need to change, how he can he help,” said Erasmus.

“Through engaging with Nigel, I believe we have built a relationship with World Rugby. But [assistant coach] Felix Jones is on working groups, and Jacques [Nienaber] is on the high-performance committee.

“Yes, we haven’t played recently, but we haven’t really been bumping heads (with World Rugby) the last couple of months.

“We didn’t feel it must be something that’s like a smokescreen or something that we pretend to do. We haven’t found somebody that’s really the right fit for we want to get out of that.

“So, no, we’re not going to replace him. In our backroom staff, we still have a few things that we’re sorting out until the World Cup to make sure ‘this is exactly what we need’.

“But I think we’ve passed that thing with the info that we’ve traded forwards and backwards, and we’ve eventually come to a conclusion that, internally, with the help from a lot of referees, Nigel’s still available for us to bounce things off him. So, the short answer is we’re not going to replace him.”

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