Munster's new Head Coach Johann van Graan took his first training session yesterday ahead of their trip to Zebre this weekend. Van Graan was previously South Africa's forwards coach and has been handed a two-and-a-half-year contract by the province.
Former Australian rugby union player David Campese has criticised Munster for the appointment, citing his nationality and relationship with former coach Rassie Erasmus.
Amazing how a mate of a mate gets a job?? And how many more mates will he get!??! And what about a Irish coach?
— David Campese (@Davidcampese11) November 21, 2017
Van Graan succeeds Rassie Erasmus in the job. Before him was the late Anthony Foley, who was still coaching until his untimely death. He succeeded Rob Penney, who came after Tony McGahan, who came after Declan Kidney.
Of the last five coaches, two were Irish. Munster also have developed former players Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery to assistants now charged with backline coaching and forwards coaching respectively.
Their team manager is Niall O'Donovan, a Munster man through and through who also played for Shannon Rugby Club.
Van Graan does come highly regarded, not just rated by his "mate." Former South Africa and Leicester Tigers boss Heyneke Meyer has hailed Van Graan for his rugby brain, analysis and understanding of the technical aspects of the sport. Former Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss told the Limerick Leader he is "probably the most knowledgeable guy in rugby that I know." Victor Matfield has also spoken highly of the coach.
Van Graan was the only surviving member of the South African coaching ticket that brought them to the World-Cup semi-finals in 2015.
It appears Campese has not done his due diligence here, given the development of Irish coaches already underway at Munster. Just last year Irish rugby legend Paul O'Connell joined the province on a part-time advisory role with the Munster Rugby Academy.
Van Graan is less than a day in the job, it is grossly unfair to be critical before he has even taken a game. Whether he is a friend of Erasmus's or not, he should be judged by his performance as coach and nothing else.