Johan Ackermann: Gloucester name former Springbok as new head coach

Johan Ackermann
Johan Ackermann was part of the South Africa squad that won the 2007 World Cup

Premiership club Gloucester have named former South Africa lock Johan Ackermann as their new head coach ahead of the 2017-18 season.

The 46-year-old coach of the Johannesburg-based Lions Super Rugby side is to replace Laurie Fisher, who left the Cherry and Whites in March.

Ackermann, who won 13 Springboks caps, will work as number two to director of rugby David Humphreys.

Gloucester are eighth in the top flight with four league matches remaining.

Interim head coach Jonny Bell - who was promoted from defence coach after Fisher's departure - will remain in the role until the end of the season.

Ackermann will arrive at Kingsholm following the conclusion of the 2017 Super Rugby campaign this summer.

"We're all delighted that Johan has agreed to become the next head coach," director of rugby David Humphreys told the club website.

"He is one of the top coaching talents in world rugby, and it's a significant coup for the club to recruit someone of his calibre.

"When we first spoke to Johan, we were struck by the enthusiasm and energy he displayed to take up the challenge at Gloucester but, once we had met with him, we knew he was the person we wanted to take the club forward.

Johan Ackermann
Johan Ackermann played against England twice at Twickenham in 2006

"We were particularly impressed by his proven ability to take a team that has under-performed, and turned them into Championship contenders. Their year-on-year progression has been impressive and they are continuing that upward trend this season."

Ackermann, who retired from playing in 2008, was named South African Coach of the Year in 2014, 2015 and 2016, having led the Lions to promotion back into Super Rugby in 2013.

"It was a hard decision," he told supersport.com at a Lions press conference on Monday. "It wasn't easy, it wasn't a one-day thing. It took a long time.

"It was a rugby decision to get better as a coach and hopefully experience something different. Hopefully it will enhance me as a coach. That was the main reason for it."

Analysis

BBC rugby union reporter Chris Jones

Ackermann is the latest to take on the head coach hot-seat at Kingsholm, and comes to England with a big reputation, having led the Lions to the Super Rugby final last year.

Director of rugby David Humphreys has cited Ackermann's ability to turn around an under-performing outfit, which he will have to do with the Cherry and Whites, who continue to flounder in lower-table Premiership mediocrity.

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