Cape Town - Eugene ‘Loffie’ Eloff is returning to South Africa after quitting as head coach of American professional team, the Austin Huns.
Eloff confirmed he requested the Austin Huns to grant him an early release from his three-year deal.
During his first season in charge, Eloff led the Huns to the US national Rugby Championship title when they upset the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) 27-23 in the final.
There were rumours that Eloff could replace John Mitchell as the new head coach of the USA national team, but it was decided that an American coach should take the helm.
Eloff formerly coached the Golden Lions and Boland and also led the South African Under-19 team to world championship victories in 2003 and 2005.
He commented on his decision via a press statement:
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I am retiring from coaching rugby at professional level and returning to South Africa. My goal and mission here at the Austin Huns Rugby was to do the strategic planning, put structures in place, appoint a top management team, develop the team into a professional unit and win the USA championship by 2019. All these goals were achieved in one year being the 2017 National Champions. It was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my coaching career. I was humbled to be on the list for the USA Rugby men’s head coach position and making an impact in USA rugby in such a short while. I feel that everything is in place for the coaching staff to take the game to the next level in the new Major League Rugby and wish them all success. I will miss Austin with its friendly people and especially all the Huns family. I want to thank the owners Richard Osborn and Chris Bugge for believing in me and giving me that opportunity, also Thierry Daupin for putting everything in place. Then a special thanks to a special friend Todd Clever for introducing me to the Huns.”
Commenting on his future plans, Eloff said: “I am going back to South Africa and will take a breather to strategise and plan my next journey. I am definitely not lost for rugby. I believe rugby must progress and change as time evolves and so must coaches. It’s time for the next generation of coaches to get opportunities. We are losing great coaches because of a bottleneck so they lose interest and quit. There are a lot of great young coaches out there, especially in SA. I have coached 29 years, 10 years as an amateur and 19 on professional level so I had a great innings. I believe I have lots of experience and knowledge that I want to take back to our young aspiring coaches and players. I also want to launch my English book - Winning Ways.”