Andy Edwards, the experienced Saracens Strength and Conditioning coach, has been appointed as the new Head of Athletic Performance for the Springboks.
SA Rugby confirmed on Friday that Edwards will take up his new role with the Springboks on 1 August, and will travel to Cape Town as soon as possible considering the resumption of international travel to South Africa.
His appointment follows the departure of Aled Walters, who recently returned to the United Kingdom after a successful two-year stint with the South African national team.
Andy Edwards will end an incredible 15-year association with the club to take up a role with the South African national team. Edwards, who has been a part of the Saracens family since initially joining as a player in 2004, will begin a new chapter as the Springboks’ Head of Athletic Performance.
“Andy has been a hugely popular and important figure in our group for a long time,” said Director of Rugby Mark McCall said.
“Whilst we will be sad to see him leave the club, we are also thrilled for him to get such an exciting opportunity on the international stage.
“It speaks volumes for how highly our outstanding Performance Team is regarded and we know that Andy will do a great job.
“I would like to thank Andy for his friendship and for the wonderful contribution he has made to our club and wish him and Lorena all the best as they set out on a new journey.”
Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby, said Edwards will be a good fit for the Springboks in the specialist role.
“Andy will bring with him a wealth of international knowledge from his time of working with a range of top-class coaches and players at Saracens, achieving success in England and in Europe,” said Erasmus.
“He comes highly recommended for what is an important role where you need someone with a proven record and international experience. During his time with Saracens he also worked with many South Africans playing for the club, which will help him to settle into the role.”
Edwards has occupied the role of Head of Strength and Conditioning Coach since 2014, and was a member of the team which saw Saracens capture five English Premiership league crowns and three European titles in his successful 15-year stint at the club.
He has international experience from a period as the strength and conditioning coach for the England Saxons (the England ‘A’ team) between 2011-2016, which included a tour to South Africa for a two-match series against the South African A side in Bloemfontein and George.
Following a brief two-year spell as a player with the club (from 2004, as a fullback), Edwards joined Saracens in 2006 as the Academy’s strength and conditioning coach. Since then he has steadily climbed the ladder from senior S&C coach to his involvement with the England Saxons, until his 2014 appointment as Saracens Head of Strength and Conditioning.
Edwards described his new role as an incredible opportunity to work with the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok squad.
“From my discussions with both Rassie and Jacques Nienaber I know that they place a huge emphasis on creating a family environment for the Springboks, and that is something that means a lot to me personally,” said Edwards.
“My family and I will be moving to Cape Town and are really looking forward to meeting everyone involved with the Springboks and experience the incredible, diverse South African culture.
“From a personal point of view, I am very excited about working with a new group of coaches and players. There is a massive challenge ahead over the next few years and I’m looking forward to the journey with the team.”
Jackson Wray, Will Fraser, Owen Farrell, Jamie George and George Kruis all worked closely with Edwards, who in his tenure has seen Sarries lift five Premiership and three European titles.
And George believes it is his incredible commitment to the cause that has made Edwards such an important and impactful figure.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Andy and the impact he has had at Saracens,” said the Sarries and England hooker. “Our group [class of 2008] has grown up together and it’s been amazing to see him develop into one of, if not the best, S&C coaches around.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who is as good at their job. He’s incredibly committed, knowledgeable but more importantly understanding.
“I consider him one of my closest mates and I’m gutted for him to be leaving but it’s an amazing opportunity with South Africa and one he massively deserves.”