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Rugby

14th Dec 2021

Munster confirm head coach Johann van Graan departing at end of the season

Patrick McCarry

The South African is on his way, next summer.

The rumours had been circulating for the past fortnight and have now been confirmed – Munster head coach Johann Van Graan will depart the province at the end of this season.

Van Graan joined Munster in November 2017, learning under Rassie Erasmus for a short spell before taking over the reins after the director of rugby left to take over the Springboks. After much consideration from van Graan, the province has stated, he has made the decision to not progress with the deal’ and will leave in June of next year.

Van Graan says he was at “advanced stages” of agreeing a new contract, earlier this year, but then took a step back to reconsider his options, and those of both his family and Munster Rugby.

‘It has been an incredible journey’, says Johann van Graan

“My family and I settled well into life here,” says van Graan. “This is our home, and in an ideal world we would love to continue living in Limerick, but I’ve been looking at the bigger picture.

“After arriving during the 2017/18 season, I am now into my fifth season with this group and in putting Munster first I believe it’s the right decision for me to call time on my contribution and step away at the end of this season.

“While we have achieved so much together, and still have over six months of the season remaining, I wanted any uncertainty about my future addressed as early as possible. Working with this coaching team, staff, and players we are always striving to do our best for Munster Rugby, and nothing will change on that front.

“It has been an incredible journey and I’m hugely proud of this group for everything we have done to-date knowing there is so much more to come as we move towards the business end of the season.”

Munster Rugby chief executive Ian Flanagan says all at the province are disappointed at the news. He adds, “For now, we are working closely with the IRFU in looking to identify suitable replacements with the confirmed departures of both Johann and Stephen Larkham next summer.”

Talk will be rife about who will replace van Graan and Larkham at Munster. Names that one will hear mentioned a lot in the coming days and weeks are former players [now all coaching] Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, Felix Jones, Mike Prendergast, James Coughlan and Jerry Flannery.

While the name of O’Gara will be the top of many Munster fans’ wish-lists, he signed a 3-year deal to take the top job at La Rochelle after Jono Gibbes left to take the Clermont job.

Since van Graan joined in 2017 Munster have reached two Champions Cup semi-finals, three league semi-finals, and a PRO14 final earlier this year.