Bragging rights on line in Munster’s coaching box as Rugby Championship begins

Charlie Talbot-Smith
19 July 2019

Share this article

South Africa and Australia lock horns at Ellis Park on Saturday to kick off this year’s Rugby Championship – and bragging rights will be on the line in Limerick as well.

The opening game of the tournament pits Johann van Graan’s country of birth against his new signing Stephen Larkham.

Van Graan arrived in Munster two years ago as the new head man at Thomond Park and this summer has remodelled his coaching staff.

And after announcing the signing of first Graham Rowntree, last month then revealed the arrival of Larkham.

The capture of the former Australia fly-half means that Munster’s new coaching ticket is jam-packed with international pedigree.

Van Graan himself arrived after serving as the Springboks forwards coach under both Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee.

Larkham has been a key cog for the Wallabies, dovetailing with Michael Cheika to lead them to the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.

Initially working both for the Wallabies and as the Brumbies head coach, latterly Larkham specialised with the international team.

And his arrival in Limerick, replacing Felix Jones to take charge of the back division is a huge coup for the Munstermen.

Throw in the experience of Rowntree, a former England and British & Irish Lions coach, who will take charge of the forwards and Munster are gearing up to end their wait for silverware.

Larkham arrives in August and you can bet that bragging rights will again be on the line when the World Cup gets underway with Australia, South Africa and England all in the mix for the title.

Speaking about his move to Munster, Larkham said: “I am very excited and honoured to be joining Munster Rugby.

“A big part of my decision lies in the values of the club and the importance they place on community. I have come from a very similar environment and know how effective and enjoyable that can be.
“I have had a number of conversations with Johann and I’m very excited to be working with him, as our views on rugby are very similar.

“I’m also looking forward to meeting and working with not only the other coaches in Graham and JP but also the very talented group of players that Munster have.”

Larkham is the latest in a long line of serious coaching talent that now calls the Guinness PRO14 home.

Glasgow Warriors under Dave Rennie have proven consistent title contenders, playing a brand of attacking rugby that has won admirers everywhere.

Rennie is one of the hottest talents in town after his work with the Chiefs in New Zealand, leading them to the top of Super Rugby.

He is joined north of the border in Scotland by perennial winner Richard Cockerill who is turning Edinburgh back into powerhouses in the capital.

Leinster have one of the great young coaches in Leo Cullen, and are guided by the experience of Stuart Lancaster.

And the talent doesn’t stop there. Another experienced Englishman in Dean Ryan will be at the Dragons’ helm this new season

And staying in Wales, one of the key architects in the Crusaders’ winning dynasty in Super Rugby Brad Mooar has taken over at the Scarlets.

The 2019/20 season promises to be another joy on the field, but in the coaching boxes the talent is equally superlative.

For one weekend however, the new coaching staff at Munster will be pulling in different directions, albeit a hemisphere away.

Share this article