Saracens confirmed yesterday that Brendan Venter is to step down as Director of Rugby in January and return to South Africa for ‘family reasons’.
He will continue his involvement with the club as ‘Technical Director’, with will apparently involve ‘frequent visits to north London’.
Mark McCall, the current first team coach, will take over as Director of Rugby, with Andy Farrell stepping up as the first team coach.
Venter has had an incredible impact on Sarries, turning them from a mid-table, under-achieving side into a top four team in the Aviva Premiership, and one that came so close to glory last season.
He’s caused controversy from the outset, when several players were released as he made his mark in changing the culture and direction of the club. He’s had various warnings and fines about touchline gesturing, comments he’s made about referees and eating biscuits at disciplinary hearings, culminating recently in his decision to boycott media work after being fined for comments about the referee after Sarries’ defeat to Leinster.
He’s been such a character, and at times controversial, that it all makes you wonder whether there’s another reason for his sudden departure of which we aren’t being told. Pure speculation of course…