Johan Ackermann, the 53-year-old former Springbok lock. Image: X/Twitter

Johan Ackermann’s homecoming!

Johan Ackermann, former Springbok lock, eyes return to coaching in South Africa after successful stints abroad.


Johan Ackermann, the 53-year-old former Springbok lock. Image: X/Twitter

Johan Ackermann, the former Springbok lock, has expressed a strong desire to return to coaching in South Africa. The 53-year-old currently coaches Japanese club team Urayasu D-Rocks.

His contract expires in a year, but he can explore other opportunities at the end of the current season.

“It would be nice to be in South Africa again, but of course that’s when an opportunity is there, and also everything that goes with it,” Ackermann told Rapport. His words reflect a deep passion for coaching in his home country.

Ackermann’s Successful Stint with the Lions

Ackermann’s coaching legacy in South Africa is tied to his time with the Lions. He took over a relegated team in 2013 and orchestrated a remarkable turnaround. The Lions not only returned to Super Rugby but also reached the finals in 2016 and 2017.

The team’s success under Ackermann’s leadership was so impressive that he was considered a potential candidate for the Springbok coaching position. He showcased his ability to transform a struggling team into a formidable force.

Coaching Abroad and Current Success

Since leaving the Lions in 2017, Ackermann has coached abroad. He spent three years with English club Gloucester before moving to Japan. He initially joined the Red Hurricanes and later took up the head coach position at Urayasu D-Rocks.

Ackermann’s current team has been in fine form this season. They have won nine out of their ten league games and sit atop the Division 2 leaderboard with 42 points.

As the Japanese season concludes in May, Ackermann considers his future coaching prospects.

Challenges in Securing a South African Coaching Position

Despite Ackermann’s representatives exploring opportunities with South African teams, coaching positions among local teams participating in European competitions are limited.

This challenge is faced by other accomplished South African coaches like Franco Smith (Glasgow Warriors), Johann van Graan (Bath), and Heyneke Meyer (Houston Sabercats).

Moreover, the competition for top coaching jobs in South Africa is fierce. Local coaches such as Rito Hlungwani of the Stormers and Pieter Bergh of Griquas will also vie for available positions. This highlights the difficulties faced by coaches seeking to return home.

The Springbok Coaching Landscape

Rassie Erasmus is appointed as the Springbok head coach until 2027, closing the door for Ackermann to take on that role in the near future.

Erasmus has already coached the Springboks in 26 Tests and is expected to surpass Jake White’s record of 54 Tests by the end of his tenure.

As Johan Ackermann continues to make his mark in Japan, his aspirations to return to coaching in South Africa remain strong. His proven track record and ability to transform teams would be an asset to any South African team. Time will tell if and when the perfect opportunity will arise for this talented coach to make his long-awaited homecoming.