Andries Coetzee Heading To Gloucester?

I sometimes wonder how local boys feel about their favourite rugby club recruiting a shed-load of foreigners to play for their team. Do they celebrate the purchase of a potentially winning team? Or do they wonder about their own rugby futures and their chances of ever playing for the team they have grown up supporting?

Certainly, way back in the misty past every schoolboy with a dream or ambition to play rugby dreamed of playing for his favourite team. Today those dreams seem to have been sacrificed on the altar of professional rugby and building or buying a winning team.

Johan Ackermann built a wonderful rugby team in Johannesburg, South Africa. His Lions outfit started as outcasts, playing just Currie Cup rugby, and finished as Super Rugby Championships contenders.

The bulk of that team were local boys. Born and bred in the catchment area that feeds Lions’ rugby. Yep, there were imports, inevitably a couple from the Free State, a couple from the Bulls, a kid from Mpumalanga, a boy from the Cape…  Some South Africans. Yes. But not a single big-name foreigner, specially bought to help produce a winning team.

He did so well with his turn-around of the Lions that he became something of a marketable commodity. His name was mentioned when there was talk of future Springbok coaches; his name was linked with a number of French clubs and an Irish club, a couple of English clubs were also said to be interested in his services.

It was Gloucester that eventually won the race and signed him as their new coach starting with the 2017 season.

Almost immediately Ackermann started to recruit some new blood into Gloucester’s ranks. First to join was his son, Ruan Ackermann, also from the Lions, who joined in 2017. Franco Marais from the Sharks followed, in March 2018. Another South African, Gerbrand Grobler followed, signing from Munster.

Next up, in quick succession, Gloucester announced that Ackermann had signed Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, and Ruan Dreyer from the Lions.

He tried to sign Rohan Janse van Rensburg when it became evident that the youngster did not feature in Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’s immediate plans, but was outbid for Van Rensburg by Sale Sharks.

And now the rumour mill is suggesting that Andries Coetzee is close to signing for his old boss. Apparently there is some room in next season’s salary budget for the addition of Coetzee.

Coetzee was linked with a move to Toulon earlier in the season, although that rumour has since quietened down, and an opportunity to link up with his former coach might be too good to turn down for Coetzee.

With Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Faf de Klerk both contracted to Sale, a third of the Lions XV that contested the 2016 Super Rugby final will be playing their rugby in the Premiership next season.

And there are rumours that several others are linked with big money moves to France, Ireland and England. Malcolm Marx, Warren Whiteley, Elton Jantjies and Ruan Combrinck are mentioned. All have have watched De Klerk, Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux get called up to the Springboks by Rassie Erasmus. They will be thinking that their own Springbok dreams can still be accommodated, even if they head off for a huge payday overseas.

We shall be watching developments with interest!