South African Rugby’s Head of Athletic Performance Aled Walters joined English Premiership side Leicester Tigers after being released from his contract with the Springboks.
The South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) said that Walters, who held the position since 2018, will return to the UK.
South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said that it was a big blow to lose an individual with Walters’ ability but the Union respected his wish to return to the UK.
“Aled has made an enormous impact since joining the Springboks in 2018 and I know that while the whole squad will be sad to see him go, he will also have our very best wishes for the future,” Erasmus said.
Walters, on his part, said that that leaving the World champions was not a decision he took lightly as he drew comparisons between Leicester Tigers and the Springboks when he joined two years ago.
“It’s a very similar challenge to a couple of years ago, when I was approached to join the South African team who were playing below par,” Walters said.
“I see this as a similar scenario, and what I know first-hand is that things can change, but it takes a lot of hard work and only happens if everyone buys into it.”
He further said that he had enjoyed his two-year tenure with the South Africa adding that personal reasons were also a factor behind his departure.
“My tenure with the Springboks can be described as some of the best times I’ve had in rugby, but these are uncertain times and the wish to be closer to families based in Wales and Ireland was a key consideration in making what was a very hard decision,” Walters said.
The highlight of Walters’ time with the Boks was last year when the side created history by winning both the Rugby World Cup and the Rugby Championship.
SA Rugby said that an appointment to replace Walters will be made in due course.