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Bath closing in on Johann Van Graan as Heyneke Meyer speculation continues

Published 19/05/2016

Mike Ford's departure has left a vacancy at Bath.
Mike Ford's departure has left a vacancy at Bath.

South Africa assistant coach Johann Van Graan is understood to be close to a move to Bath that could pave the way for Heyneke Meyer to succeed Mike Ford at The Recreation Ground.

Forwards specialist Van Graan could slot in for Neal Hatley, who has left the Aviva Premiership club to become England's scrummaging coach.

Highly-rated Van Graan coached the Springboks' forwards under boss Meyer during the autumn's World Cup, where South Africa finished third.

Meyer relinquished his South Africa role after the World Cup however, and remains among the front-runners to take the vacant helm at Bath.

Van Graan has been the only member of Meyer's coaching staff to stay on with the Springboks under new boss Allister Coetzee, but has been handed a change in role.

Former Scotland prop Matt Proudfoot has been drafted into Coetzee's new-look Springboks set-up to coach the pack, with Van Graan tasked with marshalling the attack and lineout.

Former England assistant coach Ford was sacked by Bath on Monday following a disappointing season where the club finished ninth in the Premiership.

Ford was unable to reproduce the winning mentality or the exciting style of play that took Bath to last year's Premiership final, and paid the ultimate price despite having more than three years left to run on his contract.

The available Meyer, Connacht's Pat Lam and former England boss Stuart Lancaster have all been touted as potential replacements for Ford, as owner Bruce Craig looks to reshape the club's coaching hierarchy.

Press Association Sport has contacted Bath for a comment.

The west country club did however lay out their position when confirming Ford's departure on Monday, stating at the time: "Bath Rugby is currently reviewing the coaching set-up for the upcoming 2016-2017 season and will make a further announcement in due course."

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