Rudolf Straeuli likely to end up with Lions

2013-10-27 06:00

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Former Springbok coach Rudolf Straeuli still seems likely to end up with the Lions as a result of the continuing changing of the guard at the Sharks.

Lions president Kevin de Klerk has confirmed his union’s desire to get Straeuli on board and that discussions are ongoing.

“Rudolf has a wealth of experience and we need someone with his knowledge and contacts in the game to help us with next year’s Super Rugby campaign,” said De Klerk.

De Klerk emphasised that no formal contract with Straeuli had been signed.

Former Springboks skipper John Smit, who is now the Sharks CEO, did not comment directly but conveyed a message via his public relations officer that “we (the Sharks) can confirm that we have been approached by various parties (in regard to Straeuli) but nothing is as yet final”.

The Sharks will have a completely new management team in charge at the start of the 2014 season if Straeuli were also to depart.

The retirement of Brian van Zyl as CEO paved the way for Smit’s appointment to head up the KwaZulu-Natal union. Coach John Plumtree was sacked soon afterwards, to be replaced by Brendan Venter and, within weeks, by Jake White.

Straeuli is currently the Sharks’ commercial manager responsible for player recruitment and contracting and De Klerk believes his legal background and coaching experience will make him a valuable asset at Ellis Park.

White succeeded Straeuli as Springbok coach following a disastrous Rugby World Cup in 2003, pre-empted by the “Kamp Staaldraad” controversy. White made it clear when he was appointed to succeed Plumtree at Kings Park that he would be taking charge of all aspects of developing and coaching the Sharks team.

It took no great insight to realise that there was no room for both of them at the Sharks.

Straeuli did not answer or return calls but if negotiations with the Lions are successfully concluded, he will be returning to his rugby alma mater.

One of a group of Northern Transvaal players who followed Kitch Christie to the Lions, he became a Springbok in 1994 while playing in the red-and-white jersey and was a member of Francois Pienaar’s victorious Rugby World Cup side in 1995.

In fact, it was Straeuli, who had replaced Mark Andrews at No 8, who took the kick-off and secured the ball in the sequence of play that led to Joel Stransky’s famous winning dropped goal in the 1995 World Cup final.

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