Johannesburg - There might be a slight lull in rugby action on the field, but all the South African franchises are making important moves off it as they prepare for the new year and tackling both the United Rugby Championship (URC) and the Currie Cup concurrently.
On Tuesday, the Cell C Sharks announced their management team for the country’s elite domestic competition via statement, assigning former Springbok prop Etienne Flynn and 2007 World Cup-winning wing JP Pietersen as his assistant, to take up the mantle of responsibility in that tournament.
Assisting the duo will be former Springbok captain Warren Whiteley (line-outs), Phiwe Nomlomo (off the ball and skills), John McFarland (defence) and Akvsenti Giorgadze (scrums); all of whom will share overlapping responsibilities between the two competitions.
“Building player depth is important, but equally crucial is having coaches in our set-up that can be up-skilled and are able to make a seamless transition to the next level,” said Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee in the statement.
“Creating pathways for growth and success is very much within our DNA and these appointments speak to that vision. We are confident that Etienne, JP and all the other coaches involved in this campaign will bring the best out of the Currie Cup squad and we remain committed to providing a strong platform for them to thrive."
The Sharks also revealed that former Women's Springbok Lusanda Mtiya has been appointed as team manager of the Sharks’ Currie Cup side for the upcoming season.
The appointment of Flynn and Co is not the first such announcement from the URC SA franchises. Earlier this month Mzwakhe Nkosi was announced as the Lions’ Currie Cup coach, while Gert Smal will serve in the same capacity for the Bulls. Jerome Paarwater, meanwhile, was announced as the Western Province head coach.
Seven teams are set to participate in the elite domestic cup – The Bulls, Cheetahs, Griquas, Lions, Sharks, Pumas and WP. The Currie Cup starts on the weekend of January 14 with WP facing the Lions; the Cheethas taking on the Griquas and the Pumas hosting the Bulls. The Sharks first match will be a midweek encounter on Junaury 19 at Hollywoodbest Kings Park against the Griquas.
The URC, meanwhile, will restart for the local franchises in the new year on Friday, January 7, when Leinster host the Lions, and a day later when Benetton face the Sharks, Zebre encounter the Bulls and Connacht take on the Stormers.