As a coach, Dawie Theron attained a 100-percent win record against New Zealand. Granted, he was coaching the Junior Springboks at the time, but between 2011 and 2015 he beat New Zealand’s best juniors four times, and won the Junior World Championship in 2012.
These are significant feats. It’s worth mentioning that the coaches who have had the most decorated runs with the senior Springboks over the last two decades – Jake White and Peter De Villiers – both coached the Junior Boks and won World Cups with them.
These men shaped and developed young talents and then went on to work with those players again at the pinnacle of Bok rugby, and the value of overseeing that career journey should not be underestimated.
Now back to Theron: there is currently a vacancy for a head coach at the Bulls and he should be a top contender for the job.
Already the shortlist of possible candidates has shortened with Jimmy Stonehouse committing to the Pumas. John Dobson’s been doing impressive work with Western Province and one would hope that the powers-that-be under Table Mountain’s shadow would do what they can to retain his services. Swys De Bruin is making significant impact with the Springboks. and it’s conceivable that De Bruin is being set up to take over the Bok reins when Erasmus eventually shifts focus to his Director gig.
Theron played with Erasmus in green and gold, starting at tighthead prop with Erasmus at openside flank when the Boks finally beat the British & Irish Lions in the third Test of the 1997 tour to South Africa. There’s a history between the two men that goes back a way which should assist in maintaining good communication between franchise and national structures.
Theron also started at loosehead against the formidable Olo Brown when South Africa beat New Zealand in 1996. He knows a thing or two about front pillar play and, given the torrid time the Bulls had against Western Province in their recent Currie Cup encounter, the team could use shoring up in that department.
While heading up SA’s U20s, Theron worked closely with numerous players currently on the Bulls’ books, including Hanro Liebenberg, Ruan Steenkamp, Jan-Henning Campher, Dayan Van Der Westhuizen, Victor Sekekete, Eli Snyman, Roelof Smit, Tony Jantjies, JT Jackson, Franco Naude, Stedman Gans and Manie Libbok.
And the list grows when 2018 Boks are included, namely Handre Pollard, Jason Jenkins, RG Syman, Ivan Van Zyl, Embrose Papier, Jesse Kriel, Travis Ismaiel and Warrick Gelant.
Like many local coaches, Theron took up a post overseas to expand his horizons after his work with the U20s drew to a close, signing a deal with Japan’s Docomo Red Hurricanes. In his first year in charge there, Theron won the Top West title as well as the Top Challenge Cup without his side losing a single match.
He has the pedigree, having come through the ranks as a player, then as an assistant coach at the Cheetahs, and he was instrumental in transforming Griquas into genuine Currie Cup contenders as head coach of the Kimberly-based outfit.
Theron returned home at the end of last year. In a media release, it was stated that he had not negotiated with a local team but that he hoped his CV would put him in a position to make a contribution somewhere in South African rugby.
More should be done to retain and utilise such coaches who have been in the trenches, come through the system and succeeded. The Bulls advisory panel, which includes Erasmus, would do well to consider Theron.
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