End of an era as Junior Boks coach heads for Japan

After six years at the helm‚ Dawie Theron will end his reign as Junior Springbok coach at the end of the current World Rugby under-20 championship.

On Wednesday‚ a day after his side beat Japan 59-19 in their opening match of this year’s under-20 championship‚ the Junior Springboks coach announced that he had accepted a contract to coach Japan Top League side NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

Theron will be reunited with his child stars from previous years — Handre Pollard‚ Jesse Kriel and Eben Etzebeth — who are part of the Docomo squad alongside fellow Saffers Heinrich Brussow and Wimpie Botha.

Pollard‚ Kriel and Etzebeth are on the list of players who went through Theron’s hands during the infancy stages of their careers and later gradated to the Springboks at test level – something the 49-year-old former Bok prop takes pride in.

“I want to thank SA rugby for the faith they had in me by giving me the job as SA under-20 coach‚” Theron said from Manchester‚ where his young charges are vying for the under-20 title.

 “It was wonderful to see the young guys‚ and to work with them‚ go on to play for South Africa at the highest level.

“It’s a tough decision to leave the country and to go‚ but at this stage in my career I think it is important to get international exposure.”

Theron’s highest honour as the Junior Boks coach came in 2012 when his side won the title on home soil.

While Theron remains excited about his new venture in the Far East‚ he still hopes to return to coach in SA in future.

“A real exciting challenge lies ahead at Docomo. It’s something new‚ something exciting. I believe it will help my career. Who knows? I definitely want to come back one day to South Africa and coach again‚” he said.

The SA rugby union (Saru) also stressed their gratitude for the coach’s contribution to SA rugby.

“I would like to thank Dawie for his immense contribution to South African rugby‚ not only as a former Springbok player and the Junior Springbok coach over the past few years‚ but also for the role he played at provincial coaching level‚” said Saru chief executive Jurie Roux.

“Under Dawie’s guidance the SA under-20s have been consistently competitive as one of the best junior teams in the world.”