Tearful Ackermann says goodbye to Lions family
Cape Town - Johan Ackermann got emotional when he thanked Lions management and fans for their support during his tenure as the franchise's head coach.
This comes after Ackermann confirmed at a press conference in Johannesburg on Monday that he would leave the Lions at the conclusion of this year’s Super Rugby competition to join English Premiership outfit Gloucester.
“It’s a sad decision for me to leave and take the job at Gloucester. My time at the Lions was an extraordinary journey, with more highs than lows. It was one miracle after the other," Ackermann said.
“I’d like to thank the following without whom I couldn’t have written this story: God, for his guidance and how everything fell into place; I’d like to thank my family for standing behind me; I’d like to thank the players and my team management for their hard work and unconditional support; I’d like to thank the personnel at the Lions - those behind the scenes and also top management - in particular Kevin (De Klerk, president), Altmann (Allers, investor, vice-president) and Rudolf (Straeuli, CEO).
“And then lastly, the supporters. To every supporter that stood by the Lions through the lean times as well as the good times we are experiencing now, thank you. It was indeed a privilege to coach the Lions and be a part of this union. I really enjoyed every moment, but the time has come for a new challenge and hopefully it will also be as good an experience.”
Ackermann was appointed head coach of the Lions in 2013 after being assistant coach to the Super Rugby side since 2010.
He took the Lions to the Super Rugby final in 2016, where they lost to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
As a player, Ackermann represented a number of high profiled teams in over 180 matches as well as the Springboks in 13 Tests
Rudolf Straeuli, CEO of the Lions, commented: “I honour and respect the decision and wish him all the best. I hope he grows in this new chapter of his career and returns to South Africa an even better coach. Ackers is a valuable asset to the Lions, our community and our culture and more importantly to SA Rugby. Johan will be missed, but we have experienced coaches in our structures and that will ensure continuity.”