Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus who depart Munster this week
‘WHEN I put my wife and my children on the plane home it was a massive thing and it’s tough to do those things and Munster will always be part of my life.’
The emotional words of Rassie Erasmus, Munster's departing Director of Rugby.
The former Springbok, who has been at the helm for just 18 months, has endeared himself to the Munster faithful not just with the performance of the team in that time, but also how the giant South African forward managed his side through the loss of head coach Anthony Foley just over 12 months ago.
"For me and Jacques Nienaber it's very emotional. We went through a lot this year and learned a lot about ourselves and about how people can support one another.
“So the rugby I'll always miss, it's part of our lives, plus you'll miss these 43 players plus the management that you've really grown close to, and then the fans.
“Yeah, it was tough but, you know, so proud of saying 'I coached Munster'. It's a nice thing to say and I coached them in good times, so that's nice.”
When asked about what he will miss most about Ireland, a visibly teary Erasmus added: "I think my family, certainly, we’ve grown closer here. In South Africa you get so involved and busy and with flying all over the world and here as a family you flew over here and you just know one another and then you grow much tighter.
"It was really good for my family life and my personal life so I think that helped me a lot."
Two people that Erasmus is leaving behind are Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery, but the Director of Rugby believes his two assistants are world class coaches.
"I’m telling you they are world-class coaches and sometimes people say you must coach 10/15 years to be considered a world-class coach but I really think differently. Felix and Jerry coached last year in Europe, a team to the top four and they are world-class coaches.
"They will go through some tough times and nerves and they won’t sleep at night, they must go through all of that stuff but the one thing is the work ethic and what they lack in experience they make up in relentless work rate and they will always be successful because they are very hard workers."
As Erasmus and Nienaber said goodbye to their families early last week, the coaching duo have been sharing a house together as their times ends in Ireland. When asked if the pair had made the right decision to leave Erasmus paused before making one last comment to the press.
"The decision to leave was definitely not easy, I didn't plan on leaving. I got my whole family over here and settled children in school and I convinced Jacques and his wife to come with me and then you convince them to go back again.
"You sometimes wonder; some days you're not sure but you'll never know if you don't take the chances in life. It's tough.”