Bath Rugby confirm Munster chief Johann van Graan to take over as head coach in 2022


Munster head coach Johann van Graan will depart Thomond Park at the end of this season to join Premiership outfit Bath, with director of rugby Stuart Hooper seemingly set to remain at the club

Johann van Graan will depart Munster at the end of this season to take over as Bath head coach, the Premiership club has confirmed.

Links between the two parties gathered momentum this week amid reports Van Graan would leave Munster next summer, and Bath have now announced his impending arrival on a “long-term contract.”

It’s also expected that Stuart Hooper will remain at The Rec despite this season’s nightmarish start, although the incumbent director of rugby may be set for a change of role.

Bath reside at the bottom of the Premiership table and are the only team still yet to record a win this season, fortunate that relegation from the top flight of English rugby has been temporarily paused.

Munster, meanwhile, have impressed during Van Graan’s four-and-a-half-year tenure despite failing to win a trophy since he arrived in the summer of 2017.

“I am hugely excited for the opportunity to join Bath for the 2022/23 season. I see huge potential in this club, the players, coaches and staff. I am coming to Bath to work with everyone, and to achieve great success with everyone at the club,” Van Graan said in a statement.

“This is an exciting next step for me as a coach, and for my family in moving to a proud club and a true rugby city.”

The former Springboks assistant will replace Neal Hatley as Bath’s head coach.

The Blue, Black and Whites also recently named another South African, Brent Janse van Rensburg, as their defence coach for the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign.

Van Graan will be Munster’s second major backroom casualty at the end of this season, with senior coach Stephen Larkham having already announced he’s set to take over at the Brumbies helm in 2022.

It was speculated Van Graan would leave Thomond Park once his contract expired following this season, but The42 reported he in fact signed a new two-year deal with Munster and Irish Rugby last summer.

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Instead, it’s suggested he’s decided to invoke a ‘release clause’ and join Bath, who are understood to have offered their target longer and more lucrative terms.

Van Graan allegedly had “issues with the level of influence” from certain private investors at Munster, and the opportunity to join Bath appeared too good to pass up.

The42 went on to imply South Africa internationals Damian de Allende and RG Snyman—who has ruptured his ACL twice since joining the club in 2020—are now “expected to leave” next summer as well.

Hooper expressed his pleasure to have secured the services of a head coach like Van Graan and said: “Johann is a phenomenal coach with a proven track record of developing teams to be successful on the pitch. He has experienced winning rugby environments at the very highest level of the game and knows exactly what it takes.

“We have an outstanding and committed group of players and staff here at the club; Johann’s experience will add significantly to this.”

With the current Premiership season seemingly a write-off, Van Graan has a substantial restoration project on his hands as he looks to bring Bath back to their former glories.

Only Leicester Tigers (10) have won more English top-flight titles than the Somerset club (six), though Bath’s last league trophy came all the way back in 1996.

They’ve since been crowned winners of the Champions Cup (formerly the Heineken Cup) and Challenge Cup in 1998 and 2008, respectively, while they also placed as Premiership runners-up in 2015.

Bath were recently dominated 45-20 when they visited Irish kingpins Leinster in their Champions Cup curtain-raiser, while they’re due to host French side La Rochelle in Round 2 of the competition on Saturday.