Rugby Union: Du Plessis and Christie to stay

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

Morne du Plessis and Kitch Christie, who managed and coached the Springboks to victory in the Rugby World Cup, will retain their posts for next year's New Zealand tour of South Africa.

They had talked of resigning after South Africa's victory in their first World Cup after being banned from the previous two because of apartheid. But the South African Rugby Football Union said yesterday they would stay on for the new Tri-Nation series against Australia and New Zealand, followed by the All Blacks' three-Test tour in August.

Du Plessis, a former Springbok, was credited with maintaining the squad's emotional well-being in the World Cup amid tremendous pressure from expectant South African fans.

He has been dropped as a selector for the Springbok side to affirm his "paternal role" as a confidante and advisor to the players, a Sarfu statement said.

Christie has coached South Africa to 14 straight Test victories, including six in the World Cup that culminated with the 15-12 extra-time defeat of New Zealand. He devised the blanket defensive strategy that neutralised the All Black wing Jonah Lomu in the final.

The Sarfu statement said Christie would only commit himself to staying on as coach through the All Black tour.

At the same time, Sarfu said the Transvaal had sought permission to talk to Christie about coaching the provincial side.

In its statement, Sarfu said it had no objections to Christie assuming the Transvaal position because it would give him first-hand knowledge of provincial players and exposure to Australians and New Zealanders competing in next year's Super 12 provincial series.

A former Springbok Ray Mordt, who later played rugby league with Wigan, was appointed as one of two assistant coaches to Christie.

Mordt was Christie's original choice when he accepted the job in August last year, but his rugby league ties caused the International Rugby Football Board to block his appointment.

The radical changes subsequently introduced by the IRFB have allowed Sarfu to appoint Mordt as coach of the backs and general squad fitness advisor.