Munster Rugby head coach Johann van Graan has announced that he is to leave the Irish province at the end of this season on completion of his current contract in June 2022.
Since joining in 2017, the second longest-serving Munster coach of the professional era has guided the province to two Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals, three league semi-finals and a PRO14 final earlier this year.
The 41-year-old South African also led Munster to a winning start to this season’s Heineken Champions Cup campaign last weekend, when they triumphed 35-14 at Wasps, and has his eyes on bowing out in style next year.
He told the Munster website: “While I was at advanced stages in the contract process earlier this year, I took a step back and reconsidered my options, prioritising what’s best for my family, myself and Munster Rugby.
“After arriving during the 2017/18 season, I am now into my fifth season with this group and in putting Munster first, I believe it’s the right decision for me to call time on my contribution and step away at the end of this season.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 12, 2021
“While we have achieved so much together and still have over six months of the season remaining, I wanted any uncertainty about my future addressed as early as possible.
“Working with this coaching team, staff and players, we are always striving to do our best for Munster Rugby and nothing will change on that front.
“It has been an incredible journey and I’m hugely proud of this group for everything we have done to-date knowing there is so much more to come as we move towards the business end of the season.”
Munster CEO Ian Flanagan revealed that the province are “working closely” with the Irish RFU in looking to identify suitable replacements for Van Graan and senior coach Stephen Larkham, who is also leaving next summer.
“We will be disappointed to see Johann go at the end of the season,” he commented. “He will be widely missed after forming such close relationships across the organisation.
“Johann has been a valued addition to the province and integral to all the successes we have achieved over the past four years.
“His hands-on approach and tireless work ethic have ensured the structures are well in place for continued success and we know he will continue to deliver on all fronts for the remainder of the season.”