Rugby: Former All Black, ex-Highlanders coach Tony Brown joins newlook Springboks under returning Rassie Erasmus

Tony Brown was Highlanders head coach from 2021 to 2022.
Tony Brown was Highlanders head coach from 2021 to 2022. Photo credit: Getty Images

Former All Black Tony Brown has joined the Springboks as an assistant coach and will work alongside returning head coach Rassie Erasmus.

Director of rugby Erasmus will move on from that role and coach the world champions to the 2027 Rugby World Cup, with Brown signed to sharpen the attack and former Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery added to the technical team as defence coach.

Erasmus held the head coach role when South Africa lifted the World Cup trophy in 2019, before moving to director of rugby, as they retained their title in France last year.

He takes over the coaching position vacated by Jacques Nienaber, who has joined Irish side Leinster. Highly-prized attack coach Felix Jones has also left to link up with Steve Borthwick's England.

Rassie Erasmus during last year's World Cup.
Rassie Erasmus during last year's World Cup. Photo credit: Getty Images

Brown won 18 caps with the All Blacks, and was assistant coach with Japan at the 2019 and 2023 World Cups. He also coached his former Super Rugby side the Highlanders, and previously played in South Africa for the Stormers and Sharks.

Flannery won 41 caps for Ireland, before injury cut short his playing career. He had been working as assistant coach at English side Harlequins.

"The main difference between the last four years and this season is that I will be more hands-on at the field sessions," said Erasmus.

"In my role as director of rugby, I continued to oversee the team structures and strategy in conjunction with Jacques and the other coaches, so it should be an easy transition back into the head coach role.

"With the coaching team finalised, we can now focus on planning for the season and the next few years."

Former referee Jaco Peyper, who retired last month, will join the team management to assist with interpreting the laws of the game.

Assistant coaches Mzwandile Stick, Deon Davids and Daan Human, as well as head of athletic performance Andy Edwards, have all had their contracts extended to the 2027 World Cup.

Recently retired No.8 Duane Vermeulen has joined SA Rugby in their mobi-coaching unit, which assists a variety of South African national teams.

The Springboks have a two test home series against Ireland in July, but have been in talks with Welsh Rugby about a one-off test at Twickenham before that. No deal has yet been finalised.