By Mark Gleeson
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa have added former Springbok centre Brendan Venter to their rugby team management as they continue to strengthen their coaching expertise in a bid to put a horror year of results behind them.
The 47-year-old medical doctor, a member of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winning team in 1995, will work for the Springboks as their new defence and exits coach, a statement from South African Rugby said on Sunday.
Venter worked in a similar role with Italy during this year’s Six Nations Championship where he is credited with the controversial tactic of not forming rucks in their match against England, putting the champions off their stride.
It led to Italy being ahead at halftime in the match at Twickenham before England recovered their composure to win 36-15.
But the Italian ploy was largely seen as a one-off, innovative idea that allowed them to be more competitive in a match in which they were expected to be handed a thumping.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said he was delighted that Venter had agreed to join the Bok coaching staff.
“We know each other well since our time together at the Stormers, and we share the same values. He will be responsible for defence and ‘exit’ strategies,” said Coetzee, who has already added Cheetahs' coach Franco Smith to his staff.
“We delayed confirming this appointment out of respect for Italy’s Six Nations campaign. The public delay did not interrupt our background planning,” added Coetzee.
South Africa lost eight of 12 internationals in 2016, including first-ever defeats in Argentina and Italy.
This year they face France in three home tests in June before competing in the Rugby Championship against Argentina, Australia and world champions New Zealand and then embarking on an end-of-season tour to Europe.
(Editing by Clare Lovell)