Rassie Erasmus informed the IRFU of his intentions to leave the province last Spring.
Writing in the Irish Times yesterday, John O’Sullivan claims months before official confirmation of his departure that Munster director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus activated a clause in his contract allowing him to return home and take up a director of rugby role with South Africa.
Reports emerged in April that Erasmus would return to South Africa but when asked on the matter at the time he denied the speculation. However, Munster confirmed that Erasmus and Munster’s defence coach, Jaques Nienaber, would take up roles with the South African Rugby Union, on June 30th.
Chief executive of the IRFU, Phillip Browne, spoke about Erasmus departure ahead of the organization’s agm on Friday night:
“There was a nine-month clause in this particular case, Rassie called it and that’s fine. Yes it’s not ideal but David Nucifora and Garrett Fitzgerald are working very closely together to find someone to come in to take up [the coaching reins] when Rassie leaves.”
Browne made it clear that Erasmus activated the clause in his contract “in the spring” and there had been talks between the IRFU and the South African Rugby Union on the matter.
“There have been conversations from the word go. We know our colleagues in South Africa well, we sit with them at meetings; this isn’t like clubs, this is union to union and we respect each other and we behave accordingly.”
He added that there is almost an agreement among coaches and the IRFU to not deny individuals an opportunity to take up a director of rugby role at international level emphasising the provinces openness to their staff joining the Irish set up.
While the Unions stance at an international level is admirable, it has certainly left Munster in quiet a predicament and one which they need to resolve sooner rather than later. It was hoped that the upcoming season would see the province kick on and build on the great work done last year.
New signings will no doubt add to Munster’s capability to compete at the top level but going into a season with no clear head coach identified or at the helm is certainly not a desirable situation.