Allister got a raw deal – Jake

Jake White

We’ve been professional since 1996 and world champions twice, but we’re still firing coaches when we give them spaghetti and they can’t make a hamburger.

Allister Coetzee should have raised his objections when he got the Springbok job – his claims would have had much more credibility if he’d voiced them at the beginning of his term instead of at the end. Having said that, I do believe he got the raw end of the deal. The Bok coach will never be successful when the boardroom plays the guitar and he’s expected to dance, and that all started when Allister got the job via a text message without any interview process.

I think that his love for the Boks and his desire to coach the national team probably clouded his reaction to the parameters he’d have to work in and, instead of saying it can’t be done, he overlooked the impact of those restrictions.

It’s impossible to compete in international rugby if you don’t have an even playing field. If you’re playing against top Test teams that have got carte blanche, but you don’t, then you’re not going to win.

I don’t know why anyone would want to go coach in the international arena at a disadvantage – if someone starts 10 metres ahead of you in a 100m race, then chances are you won’t catch up.

But I can empathise with Allister, and I’m sure Nick Mallett and Carel du Plessis can too, because the same thing happened to them.

One has to ask why there wasn’t a committee and an interview process. When I got the job in 2004, I had to explain what my team would be for the first Test, and then I had to tell the committee how the team would grow and change in the build up to the 2007 World Cup final.

We started with De Wet Barry and Marius Joubert, the most established centre partnership in Bok history at the time, and went into the 2007 World Cup with Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie, who are probably still regarded as the best centre pairing we’ve had.

That came with planning and looking closely at who was coming through the junior ranks of South African rugby. Allister had that insight from his time at the Stormers, so why wasn’t he asked, for example, what his plan was for a player like Cheslin Kolbe?

Instead, there was no interview process to appoint someone to run one of the top teams in World Rugby, and now they’re amazed it didn’t work.

If SA Rugby had gone through the process of explaining what they wanted and Allister had reverted with what he was planning, perhaps he wouldn’t have taken the job, or they would have compromised on what they were prepared to offer him.

Something that comes with experience in coaching is taking a job where you know you can make the needed changes, and where you have the final say on how you’re going to put it all together. Allister accepted a job where he was going to get judged on a framework that everyone else gave him.

I’m tired of saying I’m disillusioned with SA rugby, but if I look at Allister and the response to his exit, the reality is that all the same problems are still there.

Who is the next coach and what is the process to appoint him? If they’re going to skip the interview process again then nothing has changed and we’ll get the same results. And even if you do change the framework now – which would be a positive because it would show that our leaders have learnt something – it isn’t really fair to the bloke who just lost his job.

Surely it should be a standard thing that the head coach comes in and picks his management team and he is allowed to create a professional environment where the players get the best available resources?

I’ve got no doubt that Rassie Erasmus would, rightly, not have agreed to come back from Ireland for anything less than that.

You’ve got to believe that the sooner we can have rugby people around SA Rugby’s decision-making table who are going to be there for a while, the better. But some of the stalwarts at SA Rugby have been in the system for a long time and we’re still not getting anywhere. And there’s no accountability; they just carry on.

They come to a meeting to announce the new coach every couple of years and they continue in their jobs. The only things that change are the team photos, not the results.

It’s funny how everyone has just moved on after the announcement that Allister will be replaced when the root problems haven’t been dealt with.

In a month’s time we’ll hear that they couldn’t find a coach, and Rassie will take over. You have to say that does smell a bit fishy – perhaps Allister didn’t get all the help he could have because there was always a Plan B waiting in the wings.

And the Boks will improve under Rassie, because the rules will be different. So why do the people who made those decisions never have to answer for them?

- Jake White

Let's chat

  • stormramp

    Well said Jake. They SA Rugby are running the union like World Rugby. Selecting french coaches to ref southern hemisphere games knowing it has an effect on it. Why select old refs that cannot keep up. SARU knew way in advance how much money they’ll make if RSA played against Wales knowing they are fielding a weaker team. Jurie Roux must go

  • Barry Smith

    There are two distinct issues, here not one. The first is the coaches performance, and whilst in the initial stages he did not have everything his own way, the holding of two National Indaba and hiring in backline and defence experts in year two, offered Coetzee more than any other coach before him! You can also not blame SA Rugby for the stubborn selection of out of form players or players with defensive flaws, nor the puzzling game plans! It is true that SA Rugby needs to seriously review their selection policy, but to write-off Coetzee’s underperformance to SARugby would not be an accurate state of affairs!

  • Arch Rautenbach

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. SARU is totally incompetent. As you pointed out, every coach since Nick Mallet has been subjected to the same incompetent SARU, but Coetzee accepted the job under those terms, and he should have known better. When Coetzee was appointed I asked for one thing and one thing only. If he was to be let go, fired or quit before his contract expired, then everybody at SARU must go with him because then they have shown, for the umpteenth time, that they are incompetent. I don’t know if it is possible for the rugby loving public to force the people at SARU out of their positions and replace them with real rugby brains, but if there is something like that, or maybe a petition, where do I sign? But then again, this is Africa.

    • Maxwell

      And this is the major problem of people thinking this is Africa.

  • fan !

    I fully agree , SA rugby get away with it and Allister ( a gentleman ) takes all the pain , but he was set up to fail .
    I really feel for him and his family . No buisness get run like sa Rugby its very dissapointing .

    • Sharky

      I did feel for AC… until his letter. You know, the one that ironically gave SARU grounds to fire him.

      AC’s grievances voiced in that letter were ludicrous. He got this job for “non-rugby” reasons read “transformation”) and he accepted it on those grounds. He also accepted it knowing that he would have certain assistants assigned to him (Stick also being there for “non-rugby” reasons) and knowing exactly what the conditions of his role would be (whether different to those of his predecessors or not). To turn around 2 years later and say that the conditions of his employment were unfair just showed an unwillingness to own up to his own shortcomings – (1) he is a mediocre coach at best, (2) he chose to take on a role under suboptimal conditions, and (3) he didn’t have the balls (like Jake had) to demand certain things be implemented. He is either hellova naive or an idiot… and his letter (pulling the race car) show that he definitely isn’t naive.

      People spoke about AC wanting to protect his reputation. How on earth his actions do that?! His letter will render him unemployable as no employer what to employ someone who will run to the press when he doesn’t get his way. Sure, there may very well have been stumbling blocks placed in his way – from his letter it is obvious that his employment conditions were far from optimal. But as stated above, AC went into this contract knowing what those conditions were. And if he didn’t then he is an idiot (or his legal advisers are) for not clarifying those up front. His performance on the field has ruined his reputation and his letter has reinforced that damage. He will never again coach a top-tier international side and no top professional side will touch him either.

      Despite his coaching shortcomings I had felt sorry for AC because I thought that he was a nice guy. Given his actions during the past few weeks I stand corrected.

  • Jason H

    One thing that was always going to be questioned is Coetzee’s “performance”, upon his appointment. when the Springboks lost it was always due to his “selection of out of form players” or “confusing game plan”. when we did win the “TEAM” played well.
    I really hate to bring the race issue in, but its obvious, take Pieter de Villiers for example; one of the best coaches we had, yet the biggest rugby loving group can’t acknowledge him.

    • Sharky

      “Pieter de Villiers […] one of the best coaches we had”??!! LOL!!! Pull the other one.

      Okay, he was definitely one of the top 10 Bok coaches since readmission (there have only been 10). But more than anything else he was the coach of one of the best sets of players to have played for the Boks at the same time. AC was light years better than P-Divvie, but P-Divvie was placed atop the foundation Jake White built.

    • Barry Smith

      We only beat an out of sorts France (their coach since fired) Italy and Agentina- hardly cause for celebration! But most will be mindful of the 70 points we took from NZ, the fact that we slipped to 6th position, a loss to Italy, back to back losses to Wales, a hiding from Ireland and so it goes on. You cannot sir, just shrug these results away!

      • Maxwell

        What did you expect when 350 moneychasing, Saru users are playing overseas. To give you a clear picture we re not beating the ABs is 350/22 =15. The Bokteam that lost against AB was the 15th team or our O team. Does it now make sense. And thats the reality. Our players arent good enough and professional enough. And thats why Rassie is here. Otherwise no one will be interested in certain group of SA players.

        • Graham

          I have no idea what you just said

  • Mark Coetzer

    In the last 25 years only Springboks and the All Blacks have won the World cup more than once ,we have endless people with huge knowledge of the game ,Naas,Nick,François Pienaar and hunderds more to name but we still remain the team that sucks one the hind tit because the colour of our skins ,and old farts at Saru remains more important.
    If the coach have a performance clause ,Mr Roux and Alexander needs the same clause a

  • Luis Garcia

    Well said Jake. My opinion is that SARU are grasping for straws in Rassie. Mirchell is a world class coach. Why not look outside the box???

  • Nick.

    Jean Devilliers and Jaque Fourie’ the best centres we’ve EVER had’?

    Really? Am I that much older than Jake?

    Talk of a ‘plan’ for Cheslyn Colbe who never came near the Bok Setup under Coetzee? How is that relevant? Did he have a cunning plan that we do not know of?

    The point is?
    What is Jake saying?
    It’s all SARFU’s fault and not Coetzee’s?
    You’ll have a hard time convincing most of us of this despite SARFU’s imperfections.
    Like the dude says on Lebowski , ‘Hey man, That’s only YOUR OPINION’
    Make of it what you will readers.

    More homespun semi factual from Coetzee’s sidekick.
    Cheers!

    • Jason H

      ‘Hey man, That’s only YOUR OPINION’

  • Gerhard Els Gerhard Els

    You earn millions to do a specific job, not to think about the best excuses to explain why the Boks didn’t perform well in the last two years. So Mr. Allister Coetzee answer one question please? Why are you blaming everyone except yourself? You yourself and certain rugby experts, that are totally silent now, claimed that you were the best couch in SA and the cherry on the cake you told everyone you the man for the job. O! ja not to forget about certain rugby experts that claimed the same thing. Stop with all the excuses and blaming others for your failures! Be a man and except responsibility as the Head Couch. If I had to pay you millions I also would have expect results and if you failed I would have done exactly the same as SARU (Show you the door). Two to three loses is acceptable, but making a mockery out of the Springbok jersey, South African rugby supporters and the Country is unacceptable. What do I mean? Let me tell you! Every single time the Boks lost a game you thought the Springbok supporters were idiots telling every single time don’t worry everything is fine the Boks show progress and then you even try to let us believe you have a game plan. Ja! right what was the plan to make a mockery of as all and let us look like idiots. So please lets close this horrible chapter that you wrote and clean-up your office and get the Hell out! Mr Jake you don’t coach in South Africa anymore so your comments means nothing. So please keep it to yourself.

    • Frank

      Well said. Can’t agree more! Coetzee’s track record speaks for itself with the wonderful Stormers – the best players in the country couldnt win ONE Super title! and see where Jake came from – from teaching english boys and couching them (u/14) into winning teams!
      Coetzee have not and will never be a world class coach. And that is it. Fullstop.

  • Jason H

    so judging by the comments SARU must select the best possible coach with a proven track record, then none of you here can complain about Pieter de Villiers? give a reason why not?

    • Barry Smith

      Jason, absolutely right, Pieter de Villiers is a brilliant coach. I understand he is to be Rassie forward coach! Should bring along some French flair!!!

      • Sharky

        LOL! I don’t think Jason H understood what you’re saying.

        PS. Bring on Pieter de Villiers the forwards coach :)

      • Jason H

        i can’t wait till we can beat the all blacks, i’m sick of all black fans having everything to say, and i have to be quiet, no matter who plays or coaches. that is another problem we BOK supporters have-we only support when we like certain coaches and players, all black supporters just support, something we should learn to do like them maybe, then we will all have reason to celebrate. Pieter was also hard skinned enough not care what supporters or the media said-he got the results and that’s all that matters.

  • Barry Smith

    You may be thinking about Peter, not Pieter!

  • Jake White supporter

    #BRING BACK JAKE….. if he’l take it

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