Emirates Lions fans have been delighted with their team’s performance since Johan Ackermann was elected coach in 2012. While the Johannesburg-based team has risen to great heights in both the Currie Cup and Super Rugby tournaments, it was no easy task for Ackermann.

When Ackermann (known affectionately as “Ackers”) started with the team, they were replaced with the Southern Kings in the Super Rugby tournament and it was up to the former lock to recover their national standing. In 2015, the Emirates Lions made a loud bang in the rugby world by winning the Currie Cup. We spoke to Johan Ackermann about his career as a player and coach.

Ackermann began his professional rugby career in 1995 as a provincial player for the Bulls, the Griquas, the Lions and the Sharks. During this time he also represented South Africa in the Southern Hemisphere’s Rugby Championship tournament (formerly the Tri-Nations). During the years 2004 to 2005 he played for England’s North Hampton Saints team and Italy’s Calvisano team from 2004 to 2005.

  1. Why did you get involved with Investec International Rugby Academy?

Johan: “After I retired, Dick (Muir) started the academy, and he invited me as one of the team coaches, and because I love the game, it was great for me to stay involved in the game at some level and to give back to young kids that also have a passion for the game.”


  1. What was the highlight of coaching the boys at Investec International Rugby Academy?

Johan: “To see the end product, after a hard, intense week, seeing the boys applying some of the lessons they learned during the course.”

  1. Would you say that training as a coach with Dick Muir played a role in your coaching career, if so how?

Johan: “My coaching career is all because of Dick, he gave me the opportunity to get involved at the academy, and to see if it is something that I can grow into. After a few courses Dick felt that I can coach at a higher level.”

  1. Why should boys enrol in Investec International Rugby Academy courses?


Johan: “They learn of what professional rugby is all about, from rugby skills, to nutrition and recovery. And the best of all is the position specific coaching, to learn of their specific position they are playing in.”


  1. What would be your advice to young boys who are interested in improving their game or making it professionally some day?


Johan: “Practice, practice, practice, become as fit as you can, and learn all about your position.”


  1. If there’s one life skill rugby can teach, what would it be?

Johan: “There will be good time and bad times. Highs and lows but you must keep working hard, as that will happen in life as well. Discipline, work ethic, and effort is crucial in rugby, and also in life. Your character in rugby get tested when things don’t go your way and in life also. Trust in the Lord and know that in everything there is an outcome.”