IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora has thanked Munster head coach Johann van Graan for his contribution to Irish Rugby following today’s news that he will leave the position at the end of the current season.
“Johann has worked incredibly hard to improve Munster Rugby, he had assembled a world-class coaching unit, improved the depth of the squad with local talent, and helped attract top international players to the province,” said Nucifora.
“It is extremely disappointing to lose a coach of his quality from the Irish system. He is very popular with the playing group and was very supportive of IRFU initiatives such as player welfare and creating opportunities for pathway player.
“The IRFU wish Johann well in his future career and know he will continue to give everything to Munster for the remainder of the season.
“The IRFU, in conjunction with Munster Rugby, will create a process to identify potential candidates to fill the vacant coaching roles for the 2022/23 season.”
Joining the province in November 2017, van Graan was offered a two-year contract extension and after much consideration has made the decision to not progress with the deal and will complete his time with the province at the end of June 2022.
Van Graan commented: “My family and I settled well into life here, this is our home, and in an ideal world we would love to continue living in Limerick, but I’ve been looking at the bigger picture.
“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.
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 Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan added: “We will be hugely disappointed to see Johann go at the end of the season, 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.
“For now, we are working closely with the IRFU in looking to identify suitable replacements with the confirmed departures of both Johann and Steve (Larkham) next summer.”
During his time van Graan has provided much needed stability across the High Performance Centre in Limerick, further aligning the senior and Academy structures with more visibility for the next generation of players.
Players such as Shane Daly, Gavin Coombes, Fineen Wycherley, Craig Casey, Thomas Ahern, and Ben Healy, to name a few, have all progressed in their careers during his tenure.
The former Springbok coach was the catalyst for securing the services of Rugby World Cup-winning duo RG Snyman and Damian de Allende, while he also oversaw the recruitment of key signings such as Joey Carbery, Alby Mathewson, Mike Haley, and Simon Zebo.
The second longest-serving Munster coach of the professional era to-date, Johann has guided the province to consistently successful performances across Europe and the domestic league.
Since he joined in 2017, Munster have reached two Champions Cup semi-finals, three league semi-finals, and a PRO14 final earlier this year.