Ellis Park clash ‘is personal’ for departing Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber

South Africa's Damian Willemse (left) and South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber celebrate after the Autumn International match at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2022. Credit: Alamy

South Africa’s Damian Willemse (left) and South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber celebrate after the Autumn International match at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2022. Credit: Alamy

Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash between South Africa and Argentina is set to be an emotional one as the Springboks play their final home game before the Rugby World Cup.

As is usually the case, World Cup years mark the end of eras as players and coaches usually move on after the tournament, whether it is retirement or, in Springboks’ boss Jacques Nienaber’s case, a new challenge.

Nienaber has been involved with SA rugby for nearly two decades, excluding his stint with Rassie Erasmus at Munster, and will vacate his role as head coach after the World Cup to join Leinster.

He has worked in several roles with SA Rugby, from physio to assistant coach at Western Province and the Stormers to head coach with the youth teams and the Springboks.

It’s personal

The clash at Ellis Park will be his 29th international since taking over as head coach from Rassie Erasmus in January 2020, with his stint in charge heavily impacted by COVID-19.

Speaking ahead of the match with Argentina, Nienaber couldn’t help but get emotional.

“I am not a very emotional person, but the first time I remember coaching the Springboks at any level was in 2004 when I was part of the SA ‘A’ team that went to Argentina,” Nienaber said.

“The first time I worked with the senior team was in 2011. You work so hard, and you believe that someday you can be lucky enough to be involved with one Test, and if things really go well, perhaps you can go to a World Cup.

“For me personally, to be a part of three World Cups, is unbelievable. It is a dream.

“I should have just been a physio in Bloemfontein. It is more than a dream that has come true in my life.

“I told the players it is personal for me to coach them and to work with them. It is lekker to work for them.

“They make me happy. It is going to be somewhat emotional, but it is not to say that it will be the last time. You never know what might happen in the future.”

The World Cup-winning defence coach has won 17 of his 29 Tests at the helm losing 11 for a win rate of 61 per cent.

Nienaber will take over from Stuart Lancaster as Leinster’s senior coach after the Rugby World Cup.

READ MORE: Springboks v Los Pumas preview: South Africa to end Rugby Championship on a high at Ellis Park

The article Ellis Park clash ‘is personal’ for departing Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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