Vlok Cilliers (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
- Vlok Cilliers is finally nailed down as kicking consultant to France right through to the 2023 World Cup.
- It has always been a dream of Cilliers to play a coaching role at the World Cup.
- He fears the scheduled 2020 end-of-year clash between Les Bleus and the Springboks may not take place.
The coronavirus crisis and associated rugby budget cuts made for a nervy few weeks for South African specialist kicking consultant, Vlok Cilliers.
But finally, a few days ago, he signed terms to assist the French national team in that capacity for the period both up to and including the World Cup on that soil in 2023.
The former Springbok, SA Sevens player and ex-Western Province flyhalf – once a team-mate at Newlands of present Les Bleus head coach Fabien Galthie – was clearly deemed to have added healthy value to their push in the interrupted Six Nations tournament earlier this year, where he aided France for the first time.
“The talk had initially been to come for the Six Nations, and then if everything worked out to plan (on extending) for the next three years to the World Cup,” Cilliers told Sport24 on Tuesday.
“Then, during the tournament, Fabien said, ‘look, we need to sort out your contract soon’; I was due to go back again in April for three weeks – but then I couldn’t get back because of lockdown.
“There was some uncertainty as French rugby took pay cuts during the pandemic.
“We then picked up on our negotiations for a month or so and finally late last week everything fell into place.
“It was always a dream of mine to play a coaching role in a World Cup … I have done Currie Cup, Super Rugby, various gigs in the northern hemisphere, so this is a cherry on top for me.”
Cilliers says he is intended to be engaged to France for around 16 weeks per year, in three blocks, depending on Test activity by the national team.
“Usually it would be for Six Nations early in the year, then the traditional middle block in mid-year when European teams head south – France are due to play Tests in Australia next year – and again for November Test activity back home.
“In France, there is already training on the go by their clubs in small groups, then warm-up games should be possible during August, in time for an early September start to Top14 action.
“As far as the Test team is concerned, a lot is still up in the air because of the pandemic: We may still play our one leftover Six Nations 2020 game against Ireland at home, and then two against Scotland plus matches against England, Fiji and Japan.
“Another option is the proposed international tournament, featuring Six Nations teams plus two others, in two pools of four, for a central event at Twickenham … although World Rugby hasn’t yet decided on that.”
Cilliers is less optimistic about locking horns with his home country – something that was earmarked (November 21) for the Boks’ scheduled four-match, end-of-year tour.
“We are supposed to play Georgia, Australia and the Springboks at year’s end, but those look more doubtful because of international travel restrictions affecting the inbound countries.
“Perhaps things could still change on that front; it’s not off the table.
“I can tell you one thing: A lot of coaches within our set-up will be extremely disappointed if that Bok Test doesn’t happen … it would be a good measure for our young team of where we’re at – against the World Cup champions with their big, physical pack.
“The Boks, of course, would really love a good result against the host nation for RWC 2023, too.”
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