Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Compiled by Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Johan Ackermann keen to return to SA — report

The former Lions coach is currently in charge of a team in Japan.

Is former Lions coach Johan Ackermann considering a return to South Africa?

It would appear that way, according to a report in Sunday’s Afrikaans newspaper Rapport.

Ackermann, who coached the Lions between 2013 and 2017 and guided them to consecutive Super Rugby finals in 2016 and 2017, currently coaches in Japan. He is in charge of Urayasu D-Rocks, who play in the second division and lead the way in their competition with nine wins from 10 matches.

The Japanese rugby season ends in May.

‘Nice to be back in SA’

According to Rapport, Ackermann is open to a move back to South Africa. His contract with the D-Rocks comes to an end at the end of May next year, but he does have a clause in his contract allowing him to leave sooner if any opportunity were to arise.

“It would be nice to be back in South Africa, but that depends on there being an opportunity for me,” said the 53-year-old former Springbok lock.

Rapport also said that Ackermann’s representatives have already looked at whether there are opportunities available for him to coach in South Africa.

Currently, the Bulls are led by Jake White, the Stormers by John Dobson and the Sharks by John Plumtree. The man in charge at the Lions is Ivan van Rooyen, who was Ackermann’s strength and conditioning coach during his time at the union.

Super Rugby

Ackermann took over a struggling and at the time relegated from Super Rugby Lions team in 2013 and in 2016 they’d play in their first Super Rugby final, against the Hurricanes in Wellington. A year later the Lions made the final again, against the Crusaders, at Ellis Park, which they also lost, before Ackermann opted to continue his career with Gloucester in England.

A year later, the Lions made it three finals in a row, again against the Crusaders, but in Christchurch, and under the guidance of Ackermann’s former right-hand man, Swys de Bruin.

Ackermann stayed at Gloucester until 2020 when he left the club for the Red Hurricanes in Japan. He took charge of the D-Rocks last year.

Read more on these topics

Lions rugby team Springboks (Bokke/Boks)