CAPE TOWN: When the euphoria of a third Rugby World Cup triumph subsides in the coming weeks, South African Rugby will be faced with filling the head coach role vacated by Rassie Erasmus.
The Springbok coach stated long before the 32-12 final victory over England in Yokohama on Saturday that he would return to his role of Director of Rugby within SA Rugby, allowing for a new man to take the team forward.
"It is my last test match that I will be the head coach," Erasmus said ahead of the final. "For me, it’s an emotional one in the sense that I didn’t think 25 test matches would go that quickly.
"But I will be heavily involved, hopefully, still after this – whatever way we are going to go with the head coach."
Erasmus’ meticulous planning and expert player management had a major hand in the Boks lifting the trophy, and the retention of his know-how, even from a distance, will be a major boost for the team as they head towards a British and Irish Lions tour in 2021.
"When I took over it was 618 days to the World Cup and we planned to win it. It is now 614 days to the British and Irish Lions and we will start planning now. Lose the first test and people forget about the World Cup.
"Depending on who will be the head coach‚ the Director of Rugby will definitely not have an office job behind a desk just thinking strategically. It will be a hands-on job‚ very close to the head coach," Erasmus said.
Bok defence coach Jacques Nienaber is also likely to stay on and is a trusted lieutenant of Erasmus after they served together in the army and have worked side-by-side at South Africa’s Cheetahs and Stormers, and at Munster in Ireland.
Former Southern Kings coach Deon Davids has long been thought of as a possible successor, with his inexperience boosted by the support of Erasmus and Nienaber.
And then there is Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann, a former Bok lock who is hugely respected in South African rugby circles for the way he turned around the fortunes of the Lions in Super Rugby.
For now the celebrations will continue, but soon there will be big decisions to be made.
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)