Rassie Erasmus' addition of Tony Brown wins praise from Bok legends

Rassie Erasmus' addition of Tony Brown wins praise from Bok legends

Rassie Erasmus' decision to add Tony Brown to his Springbok coaching team has gone down well with former South African greats Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger.

Earlier this week, SA Rugby confirmed that Erasmus had signed a contract to return as head coach until 2027 and revealed who would be assisting the head coach going forward.

Brown was one of the new faces added to the Boks' coaching staff, along with former Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery, and former referee Jaco Peyper.

Former Boks Burger and De Villiers hailed the call to bring Brown into the national team's backroom staff with ex-England centre Brad Barritt, who also played alongside the former All Black, equally applauding the decision.

"What an acquisition," Barritt said on the Boks Office podcast before the announcement.

"He was an amazing guy to learn from still to this day, probably the best pass I have ever seen - it was just on a sixpence every single time; that's an amazing coup."

The former flyhalf, who played for the Sharks and Stormers, is highly regarded in New Zealand for his coaching ability. Had Jamie Joseph been appointed head coach, he would have been part of the All Blacks coaching staff, but NZ Rugby preferred Scott Robertson for the top role.

Meanwhile, De Villiers is not concerned about Brown fitting into the system at the Springboks and also spoke glowingly about the flyhalf whom he played alongside at the Stormers in the 2000s.

"Tony Brown started playing in the mid-90s, played Super Rugby and international rugby, went all the way through and finished in about 2010 and then went straight into coaching in Japan and with the Highlanders, he has coached all around the world, so he has like 35 years of IP and experience at the highest level that he can fall back on."

"People will also say, 'but how will he fit into the Springboks set-up?' Well, he played for the Stormers and can you remember who the coach was? Rassie Erasmus. He was amazing."

In a more recent episode of Boks Office, De Villiers and fellow former Springbok Burger reacted to the official appointment of Brown.

"He won a Super Rugby under Jamie Joseph for the Highlanders, so he is going to bring something different," Burger said. "We know he thinks about the game. Every time Tony Brown coaches a side you know he does something inventive on attack. He will add a different dimension.

"He has got a different physical specimen to coach [compared to Japan], so things that he had to be inventive with to get over the gainline will be a little bit simpler to coach.

"But if he can add the added dimension of the subtle offload or something inventive like he has done with the Japanese, then it can only empower our physicality."

Brown and Flannery are not the first foreign coaches that Erasmus has employed, with Felix Jones also joining the coaching ranks ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup but is now with the England staff.

It was reported that Erasmus did consider the local coaches to fill Jones' void and that of former head coach Jacques Nienaber - who also ran the defence - but instead opted for the overseas options of Brown and Flannery.

"We talk about the innovation and trying new stuff, but he (Rassie Erasmus) does it even from a coaching point of view. Not just sticking to what we have here in South Africa," De Villiers remarked.

"I think it will be difficult for a foreign coach to be the head coach of South Africa, but the value lies in exactly what Rassie is doing now, by getting assistant coaches and experts in their field to come and add to the team.

"However, Rassie was the guy that brought Tony Brown to the Stormers back in 2008, and Rassie has coached with (Jerry) Flannery at Munster."

The back-to-back world champions face Ireland in their opening two Test matches of 2024 in July before a one-off Test against Portugal.

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