The rumours that Lions head coach Johan Ackermann may be taking the reigns at Gloucester is welcome news to the Cherry and Whites. Ackermann, who led the South African Super Rugby side to the competition final last season, is one of the hottest coaching prospects in World Rugby at the moment and would be an incredible acquisition for Gloucester. But what could could the former Springbok bring into the Gloucester set up?
A fast and dynamic style
One of Ackermann’s key implementations at the Lions has been a complete overhaul of their play style. Traditionally, South African rugby could be summed up in three words: physical, dirty and relentless. Last season, Ackermann broke that mould, having his side playing a much faster brand of rugby.
Quick ball from the base of the ruck, powerful yet agile wingers and a very mobile forward pack all contributed to their success last season. With the exciting Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk at running the show in the three quarters and the likes of Warren Whiteley running the show up front, this unique blend of pace and power was traditionally associated with a New Zealand side far more so than a stereotypical South African team.
This exciting style would translate perfectly to the west country. Gloucester’s achilles heel of late has been their inability to produce quick ball. The ball is often slow to make it from the base of the ruck into the back line, subsequently giving the opposition defensive line enough time to blitz.
This means the Cherry and White back three see limited ball. With Ackermann at the helm, Gloucester may begin to play a faster style, meaning the ball can make it through the hands more quickly, giving the wingers more time and space in possession.
Bringing through the youth
The aforementioned change in playing style would not only impact those Gloucester players currently playing regular first team rugby, but those beginning to break into the senior ranks. Ackermann’s ability to develop world class talent has been widely documented, with the likes of Faf de Klerk and Rohan Janse van Rensburg a testament to that.
If Ackermann were to make the trip over to the UK, his influence could help usher in a new generation of stars at Kingsholm. The likes of Ben Vellacott, Mat Protheroe and Callum Braley would all benefit massively from a faster play style, and with the departure of Greig Laidlaw a new head coach would give these young players a chance to shine.
As well as developing the current crop of Gloucester talent, Ackermann could also be the catalyst for a new wave of signings. Whether that is the likes of Janse van Rensburg to fill the gap at inside centre or Run Combrinck to bring a level of physicality on the wing.