Munster have confirmed that director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and defence coach Jacques Nienaber will leave the province in December.

Erasmus, who led Munster to the Pro12 final and Champions Cup semi-final in his first and only season in charge, will return to his native South Africa to take over the Springboks.

It had been suggested that the pair might leave in time to take charge for the Rugby Championship, which takes place from August to October, but, as it stands, Erasmus and Nienaber will remain in situ for the first half of Munster's season.

A statement from Munster said that they and the IRFU are "currently looking to identify replacements, with Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones already confirmed as forwards coach and backline and attack coach respectively.

Munster Rugby CEO Garrett Fitzgerald said: "With the squad and management returning for preseason this week we can today confirm that Rassie and Jacques will return to South Africa. 

"While we understand Erasmus’ reason to return to his home country for an opportunity as the national director of rugby we are disappointed to see him and Jacques both leave. 

"Working closely with both I witnessed first-hand the work that they do, and we will always be grateful to Rassie for leading the squad through our most difficult time with the untimely passing of Axel (Anthony Foley). 

"I believe we were very lucky in securing Rassie and Jacques in the first place, and we are thankful for the services of such experienced and knowledgeable coaching talent. 

"Rassie succeeded in getting us back on track with much of the same personnel and when you see how far we have come and what we have gone through as a squad and organisation I am confident we will successfully manage the next stage. 

"As a group we will be all the better for their input with Jerry and Felix now ready to step up to the next level. 

"We have been in this position before, whereby our coach has been offered a national role and we are not going to stand in the way of someone in that regard. 

"We understand Rassie’s decision, and all parties are working together in managing the situation."

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