Coetzee must go

Tank Lanning

Focusing on the state of Springbok rugby while the nation’s self-serving, so-called leaders, gorge at the trough, feels a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!

But as incredibly depressing as that is – and it really is depressing – it has to be about controlling the controllables in the hope that the little changes we make at the base of the pyramid filter up in a positive way.

Make no mistake, though, these macro factors so brutally laid out in Jacques Pauw’s The President’s Keepers, have without doubt had an influence on all spheres of the country, including rugby.

The tidal wave of players leaving the country go not only to partake in foreign currency, but also to get themselves out of a country they no longer believe in.

Throw in the internal politicking around transformation which sees coaches unable to pick the players they want, and I think it’s fair to call the Bok coaching job the toughest gig in world rugby.

In effect, Allister Coetzee never had a chance.

Was he set up to fall? Perhaps. Was he the best man for the job? Not a chance. Was there government pressure to appoint him? Of course. Will a better man do a better job if forced to work within the same set of parameters? Yes, I believe so.

At the time of his appointment, I asked whether the RFU would have broken the bank for Allister Coetzee like they did for Eddie Jones.

This not to belittle the man, but to make a point. That being to question whether, with Coetzee’s appointment, we as a nation were chasing excellence or settling?

“Nice” or “fine” are not words that I want on my tombstone when I join Frans Erasmus and Tommie Loubscher in propping up heaven’s rugby pub . They are words associated with taking the path most trod or fence-sitting. Yet this is how I felt about Coetzee’s appointment.

“That he has chosen to take it on shows character and guts. As a South African I will support him 100%,” is a line from the column I wrote at the time of Coetzee’s appointment. And I really have tried to do exactly that. But that ends today.

It is time for Allister Coetzee to depart.

Press conferences, bar the comedy sessions when Peter de Villiers was at the helm, are dour at the best of times, but Coetzee’s clichés take the cake. When last, if ever, did you hear a technical response to a rugby question that left you thinking “Hell’s bells, this oke knows what he is doing”?

And what about those incredibly poor selections that have shown zero foresight?

In the post-isolation era, only John Williams (20%), Ian McIntosh (33%), and Carel du Plessis (37.5%) have worse records than Coetzee. They lasted 5, 12 and 8 games in the job respectively. Coetzee is on 22. Harry Viljoen, with a win-rate of 52%, lasted just 15 matches.

Coetzee is the only post-isolation Bok coach to have more points against (588) than points for (504).

With 9 wins from 22, Coetzee simply hasn’t cut it as Springbok coach. In those 22 Tests he has not beaten a team ranked higher than the Boks at the time of that match.

Away from home it gets even messier. He is 1 from 10 and that win was against Argentina, who have lost 16 of their last 18 Tests and are ranked 10th in the world.

As Mark Keohane points out in a Tweet: “The Springbok season was going to be judged on 2 results in 2017 – against the All Blacks in NZ & Ireland in Dublin. The results were damning. The Boks scored three points and conceded 95, including 12 tries”.

The time has come to judge.

“If you were confused by the kit colours,” said one of the Sky analysts after the game in Dublin on Saturday with reference to the jersey debacle, “Ireland were the team that was disciplined, organized and half decent. South Africa, the other team…”

On Coetzee’s watch, the Springboks have become the laughing stock of the rugby world. It’s simply not acceptable.

Control one of the controllables: Coetzee must go.

- Tank Lanning

Let's chat

  • Johan


    And he must go now, don’t even let him finish the tour

    • Chad

      If the Springboks give France a huge drubbing tomorrow will you still be singing the same song…just wondering. Yes our Springbok pride has been hurt and yes Allister has made some dubious selections but lets see how he ends off the season and judge him on that…If no improvement then I agree that he should be replaced…one thing I hate about SA rugby is that its always politicised…if you’re a white coach and pick too many whits players then you’re a bad coach…if you’re a black coach and pick too many black players you’re a bad coach…we never win!!!

  • jp

    strange, people want him out but nothing about bafana coach…. i wonder why

    • Frankie Knuckles

      This is ALL OUT RUGBY.
      Soccer is irrelevant here, and so is their coach.
      Nothing about Jacb Zuma either?
      Or the Gupta’s??
      Or Donald Trump???
      Or the Bubonic plague crisis in Madagascar, or the coup in Zimbabwe or the Rohingya refugee crisis.
      Try to focus, this is a rugby site.

      • Joe

        Well said Frankie

        Jp – boet , you must start chatting some rugga’s or you must jog on.

    • Sharky

      Who is the Bafana coach? Is he doing a good job? I wouldn’t know, I am a rugby fan… and this is a rugby website. Maybe soccer websites will have a story calling for the Bafana coaches head. I doubt you will find an article about the Bok coach there, just as you won’t find an article about anything Bafana related here.

  • Chris

    Do agree but, did he really had a chance? Started with Inexperiece assistants after the World Cup exodus. When SARU finally excepted they are complicit, was given Venter, on who’s own admission is not a defense coach and Franco, who’s team ended bottom of S18. No coach can excel bieng micro managed and push. The fault is not with the players or Allister, but with the system they have to perform within. Leaving now will at least spare him from another’s embarrassment when Rassie also starts to interfere.

    • TheSpecialOne

      No doubt there were several factors working against Coetzee during his tenure, but I think he was obviously not the best man for the job. And, I think as Tank says, he clearly could have done better within the constraints. So he absolutely must shoulder some of the blame, although it is also fair to mention that did no appoint himself.

  • max

    Ek wil graag sien wie en hoe die kitaar gespeel gaan word. wa ek weet hy hy gaan klink so n sirkus een. LOL

  • Peter

    All things being equal….nice guys in rugby dont cut it…”Toetie” is a nice guy….but nice doesnt win games!!!!
    And that is why Kitch Cristie and Jake White brought home the bacon.
    Whether AC is ditched today or after Wales game will not change the course of the Outbound Tour….yes the Boks because of pride may beat France and big should….might “pastarise” Italy….but Wales will condemn this tour to a 2/4 scenario.
    Get Rassie to take over immediately they get back and try and salvage some pride and respectability before and during the next WC

  • Rodger

    Why would any respected international coach take on coaching the Boks? Only one outcome, your credibility shot to shreads

    • Sharky

      Rodger, that is exactly the problem! Why coach in SA when the job comes with massive political pressure, an unforgiving rugby public, and a massive player exodus? Maybe because of the aura associated with the Springboks you say? Well that sure as hell doesn’t exist anymore!! So then why would anyone want the job? Maybe because of a passion for the Boks?

      I coach u16s and u15s, but if I was good enough to coach the Boks (who I am extremely passionate about) and I was offered the job, I would say no. Emphatically NO!!! I would rather coach in Japan, earn more money, and not be stuck between in an abusive relationship with government, rugby administrators, an unforgiving media and a hostile public.

      • Marlon levin

        No need to take the political pressures as a nation….kick the useless incompetent and over controlling ANC out of power . Their objective was to de-white the fan of rugby in order to the rest of the clowns in Africa who us boss….they like many other African countries have and will continue to fail.

  • Graham

    I never understood why AC was selected head coach in the first place. He was not the most experienced SA coach and not the best coach available, had the worst attacking record in super rugby (and people wanted an expansive brand of rugby from the boks) and even though he did well in super rugby he never dominated the comp. Even at the end of his tenure wp had to bring in gert smal to help salvage a team getting progressively worse. From day one, when the rumour mill started turning, I said SA rugby would never be the same if they picked him as bok coach and I would never support him because he was in my view a quota selection. People might say thats racist or im not a true supporter but I was always behind the boks through every loss and win but everybody has a breaking point and mine was reached.sad but its going to take a lot of changes from saru to get me behinf the boks again

  • hopeful

    Finally a column with some honesty…..

    We are unforgiving, we are hostile and we certainly don’t always understand the back engine as public supporters….but… some improvement, win a tough game, beat an arch rival and you will earn respect and patience.

    I can honestly say I have never seen teams so defeated and demotivated in our national colours as they have been over the last two years. We have some very special talent, proud South African supporters and players of all colour and creed capable of doing damage and winning.

    We cannot ignore political influence, we cannot supersede governments demands and we certainly cannot deny that we have talent from all demographics. The coach that could possibly change things needs to find a balance and choose players capable of improving, players that can be coached and players that can be mentored.

    I agree it’s not a favorable position and any coach in his right mind would shun the idea…..but there has to be someone smart enough to make the system work and make a name for himself as not only a formidable coach but master tactician….any man capable of coaching and playing politics is a talented man indeed.

    Call me a bastard but players will have to look abroad to further their careers….we are imploding and it’s happening faster than we thought it would…that’s not negativity it’s heartbreaking facts!!!….and that goes for players of all colours!!!

    I unfortunately could never and will never change my support and allegiance but make no mistake I will shout my mouth off and show anger….that’s my right as a coach from the couch and supporter in the stands!!!

    • hopeful

      My question is….will the sacking of AC really change things or will it be a temporary attempt at a subdued reaction for the supporters demands?…..We can have Eddie Jones at the helm (Hypothetically) but if he is restricted by selections and supported by incapable people would he be any more effective?

  • Ruckby

    We coulda had Rennie :'(

  • Dean Bright

    The only thing is that we have been here before, only the names and faces have changed. As for selection, all the players people are calling for to be in the team now, were there last year. Last year JP, Combrinck, Willie, Lambie, Mapoe, Goosen, Habana, Vermeulen, Rohan all played. We have seen the team change time and again yet the results stay the same. Since 2010 we have been on a slow decline which has picked up the pace in the past two years. If you think back to Heyneke’s tenure and at the end of PDV’s people were calling for their heads then too. I think the problem is deeper and the solution a lot more complex than simply changing the head coach. Unfortunately the financial situation in SA has caused a major loss of some of our best players and coaches. Maybe it is time for SA to join the European leagues, if that will benefit SA financially and help to keep our players. Secondly, I think that all teams across SA need to have intense skills training. They need to upskill our coaches too. They should overhaul the whole system. There are too many small unions. It’s quantity over quality. Time to put their resources into 5-6 combined franchises from all the provinces consisting of the best players and coaches in the country who compete at the higher levels. I think Zelim wrote an article where he said they should start a fresh with 4-5 completely new franchises for Super Rugby with the best 160 players contracted to SA rugby.

  • Sjambok

    The gradual degradation of everything in SA has started to affect rugby too, as it will everything. It has to start from the top. And it’s not going to.
    I wonder if Robbie Deans could be coaxed to come on board?

    • Mark

      Never. NZ coaches want to pick the best players and use the best assistants. Not ANC clowns

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