When the news finally broke that director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and his defence coach Jacques Nienaber will leave Munster Rugby before the end of the year, it came as little surprise given the constant rumours over preceding months.
The South African pair joined at the start of July 2016 and experienced a rollercoaster year following the tragic death of head coach Anthony Foley ending with defeat in the Champions Cup semi final and the Pro12 final.
Garrett Fitzgerald, CEO of Munster Rugby, said Rassie and Jacques will return to South Africa as Erasmus has been appointed national director of rugby with SARU. Fitzgerald commented, “We were very lucky in securing Rassie and Jacques in the first place, and we are thankful for the services of such experienced and knowledgeable coaching talent.
“Rassie succeeded in getting us back on track with much of the same personnel and when you see how far we have come and what we have gone through as a squad and organisation I am confident we will successfully manage the next stage.”
Meanwhile the pair are still active on the transfer front and have just signed another two South African players to join the Munster squad, flanker Chris Cloete and lock Gerbrandt Grobler. Cloete, who played with Southern Kings and Pumas, has signed a three-year contract while Grobler is on a one-year deal.
Cloete (26) has made 21 appearances for the Port Elizabeth Super Rugby side, scoring six tries, and has enjoyed a standout season during the Kings 2017 campaign. Currently with the Pumas, he previously lined out for Western Province in the Currie and Vodacom Cups, and also spent time playing in Sri Lanka. Grobler (25) makes the move from Top 14 side Racing 92 where he played on 20 occasions last season, including a start against Munster in round 2 of the Champions Cup, and scored five tries.