Johan Ackermann’s burning desire to improve himself and become an international coach is the main reason why he’s leaving the Lions.
The widely expected news that the 46-year-old mentor has joined English club Gloucester was confirmed on Monday morning.
He has signed a three-year contract.
One positive development to emerge though is that he’ll only be leaving at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign.
“I want to get all the emotion out the way so we can focus on the current campaign,” said Ackermann.
“This is not about me. My focus is the players.”
Ackermann’s departure asks renewed questions over South African rugby’s ability to keep its leading coaches.
Following last year’s shocking Springbok year under Allister Coetzee, there were calls from some quarters that the South African Rugby Union (Saru) should’ve found a spot for the Lions coach.
That didn’t happen.
But Ackermann reiterated that he’s not moving abroad because Saru weren’t proactive in trying to keep him.
“Obviously there are contracts in place at the Springboks,” he said.
“I must look at opportunities where I can enhance myself and at this stage I respect the fact that there is a man in the national coaching job. I’m going to improve myself as a coach and I believe if that’s the end goal, a door will open for me.”
“SA Rugby has the right to choose who they want as coach. Every coach wants to coach an international side. Hopefully this is a stepping stone for me.”
Given that Ackermann is still available for the rest of the Super Rugby campaign, the Lions aren’t in a rush to identify a replacement.
Swys de Bruin, the union’s experienced assistant coach, will not be joining Ackermann in Gloucester and would be an obvious candidate to take over.
“The team is in a good place right now. Theres no need to name a replacement immediately,” said Rudolf Straeuli, the Lions’ chief executive.