Coetzee unbearable, Venter unbelievable!

Keba Mothoagae

Fellow Bok fans, I pity the loyal supporters who paid nearly R1000 to attend Saturday’s Test at Newlands. The coach is expecting to lose. His assistant told you to go to hell after South Africa drew with Australia, again! And you have to deal with generally obnoxious Cape All Blacks “supporters” in the stands.

It could turn into a messy weekend. But hey, you can’t say you didn’t see it coming!

After a 27-27 draw between the Boks and Wallabies in Bloem last Saturday, coach Allister Coetzee and assistant coach Brendan Venter went on record with some alarming statements.

“To think that this team after three months together can topple the All Blacks easily, it’s living in a fool’s paradise,” said Coetzee.

Are you kidding me! It’s tough enough getting behind a team that has, on average, lost 52-9 against the All Blacks during Coetzee’s term, but having the coach admit surrender is unbearable.

In June, I regretfully backed the coaches after the 3-0 whitewash of France. I didn’t care how poor Les Bleus were because ‘you play what’s in front of you’.

The Boks looked more than capable of a comfortable second-placed finish in the Rugby Championship, noting Argentina’s regression and Australia’s directionless state. And, after a dreadful 2016 campaign, four victories in the four nations tournament would have been a vast improvement.

The Boks got their two wins over Los Pumas, but blew two opportunities against the Wallabies. In between was the biggest loss in Bok history, an embarrassing 57-0 drubbing in the Land Of The Long White Cloud.

A loss in Cape Town, combined with a win for Australia in Mendoza, will see South Africa finish in third place.

When all of this is taken into account, the 2017 campaign is another failure – not yet as abject as last year’s, but still. And yet Coetzee has accused fans of living in a fool’s paradise for holding onto the small hope of a win this week.

Twitter-blocker-in-chief, Venter told justified sceptics to go shove it, saying that “if winning is all you see. Stop watching. Boys deserve respect, not criticism.”[sic].


It’s alright to defend yourself against critics, but to say this to people who are not apathetic to the Boks’ struggles is arrogantly ungrateful! I know Venter is refreshingly outspoken in an environment where the fear to offend is almost paralysing, but if it were up to me he’d get the sack for this.

The national team is beholden to the people, and not the other way around. We supporters are a lot more knowledgeable about the game than he thinks, and a lot of us are correct with the diagnoses of what is wrong with the team and how it can be fixed.

Venter and Coetzee’s statements are indicative of a low-expectation mentality coupled with not being held accountable by their bosses at SARU.

Can you imagine Steven Hansen or Ian Foster saying something similar? New Zealand would be in a uproar with dire consequences!

The match at Newlands is a contest between Test rugby’s greatest teams historically and statistically. At 77% and 63% respectively, the All Blacks and Springboks boast two formidable win-loss ratios that are barely comparable across all international team sports.

Unfortunately, the rivalry is dead, for now.

If anything, the Boks current malaise has made the All Blacks all the more fearful of an ignominious loss in Cape Town. And this translates to them making sure they will humiliate us at any given opportunity to underline their dominance over us.

Their ruthlessness is that absolute.

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- Keba Mothoagae

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  • Rod

    Well said Keba. Most honest opinion piece I have read concerning SA rugby. And shuffling the decks on the field won’t help when the person out of position is AC himself.

    • Naas.

      I agree 100% The problem is still AC.

      • Chris Coetzee

        Stop complaining. A.Coetzee and his staff did a splended job. The players and coaching staff did excellent, keep the good work up. Remember they are building a team for the world cup.

      • Jacob Zuma

        The problem is politics.

    • Gerhard Bok Believer

      I Also have some comments for them!

      You know what ticks me off, remarks from assistant coaches like Brendan Venter. How on earth do you motivate your team to win if the coaching staff don’t believe everything is not about winning. Then you tell the Bok supporters if they are not happy don’t watch the Boks play anymore and you tell this to supporters that paid R950 for a ticket at Newlands.

      This tells me that supporters that complains believes more in the Boks ability to win the All Blacks than the coaching staff and when I mean coaching staff that includes Allister Coetzee defending the remarks from his assistant coach.

      In my heart I know the Boks can destroy the All Black and I really hope it will happen this weekend. Why do you think “Mr. Venter” the All Blacks is so successful. Let me tell you, because they play for the supporters, they play to win for the supporters, they play to win for the coaching staff because they know that the coaching staff believe in them to win every single time they run on to that field and it doesn’t matter were in the world they are playing.

      I believe if you give the Boks the same type of coaching staff that the All Blacks have at this moment, no team in the world will be able to beat the BOKS and that include the All Blacks. So Mr. Coetzee and Mr. Venter when you get your mentality and mindset right and start believe in winning then you will stop drawing or losing matches and start winning some.

      O! ja; it’s not the players that need motivation Mr. Coetzee and Mr. Venter, it’s you; your coaching and managing staff that needs the motivation.


    • Dawie

      Rod, your last remark is absolutely true!

  • Jay August

    What these guys forget is that it is the paying public who give them their jobs and livelihood. Frankly to tell fans to shove it is beyond the pale. This is the first time in nearly 40 years that I will purposefully not watch the Boks as I am not interested in spending 80 minutes in despair and frustration!

  • Shane

    We have a domestic team that reached the Finals of Super Rugby for 2 years in a row and whipped the best New Zealand side in the process. So clearly, we have the players to beat New Zealand.
    The question is: DO WE HAVE THE COACHES???
    For all the smoke and mirrors – it is the coaches that have let our country down.

    • Derik

      That is exactly what I’ve been saying! How can you have a domestic team that have been able to beat all the NZ sides over the past two seasons, but the Boks blow out 50 points plus against the AB’s every game? I would have understood if it was close losses, but not the complete surrender we have seen.

      Heyneke was a good coach, but he selected out of form players and his sentiment and loyalty cost him. Even Divvie, although he was a part-time comic, was a good coach and selected good in-form players. But AC is a disaster, with outdated coaching techniques and selecting average players for the sake of politics and not upsetting provinces.

      • Charles

        The SR sides in New Zealand can probably beat a lot of international teams. The All Blacks however are a culmination of the best of the best their rugby has to offer. The Crusaders are a very strong side and yet they’re not even filled with 23 All Blacks in their team!

        The Kiwis have been looking surprisingly vulnerable at times but unfortunately, at this stage, we lack the skills as well as team cohesion to take them over the edge.

        I love my team but at least I know it CANNOT get any worse than the tragic tale of Albany…

    • Eddie Smook

      Shane I absolutely agree with you. Not only has the team you speak of been in the SR final for two years in a row they have shown us what type of game we should be playing. Read that they also practise situations and not game plans – one reason for a successful team that they are. I do not beleive we have the coaches to restore us into a feared and respected side. We had one but he is now coaching in Scotland

  • Stanley

    Liverpool is nowhere close to where they were some years ago, BUT their coach will never go into a game against Manchester United not fighting to win. It is called PRIDE in the jersey

    • boyo

      Very good analogy. Imagine a football coach told fans to stop watching if they only watched to win.

  • Arch Rautenbach

    Well it just proves how far SA Rugby standards have slipped.
    Carel du Plessis got appointed just before a British and Irish Lions tour, and was sacked later on because he lost that tour, even after they beat teh Aussies 61-22 in his last match in charge. 8 games is not enough time for a coach to implement his style on a team, and Carel was a supporter of ball in hand rugby. He could have done great, but according to SA Rugby, not good enough.
    Then enter Nick Mallett. He rubbed everybody the wrong way, but he got the job done. He took the Boks to a then world record equaling 17 consecutive victories. Why was he sacked again. Oh yea, saying the ticket prices (back then R250 a ticket) was too high.

    Now we have a Boks coach saying, “beat the All Blacks? What are you smoking in that pipe?” And an assistant coach saying “Voetsek you, we don’t play to win.” And they don’t even get a slap on the wrist. How the mighty have fallen.

  • Philip Spies

    I am still waiting for some kind of response from anyone at SARugby on either Coetzee or Venter’s statements. If they don’t even bother to respond, maybe we should assume that they share these opinions? Never in my life have I heard of a coach telling the world that they can’t win a game, or an assistant coach telling supporters not to watch.
    I also like that Brendan Venter tells the fans to respect the players, but he apparently has no respect for the fans who pay all of their salaries…

  • JB Cloete

    All of the above are true to some extend. However what every one is not keeping in mind is the political interference.
    No other “rugby team” has that on their backs as well. Only South Africa. Remove all the political BS pick the best player, only the best nothing els, the best coach or coaches, not yes men. Only the best. I will say it again only the best and leave them to get on with it.

    Like Jake White or not, we are the only country that fired the coach after he won a world cup. Makes you think does it not. Coetzee spews the same garbage week in week out. Put yourself in the shoes of the players. Do you for one moment think they have confidence in Coetzee. I doubt it.

    Let’s sê what happens Saturday. Maybe, just maybe we will all be surprised. I hope.

  • Nick Kirsten

    Damn well said Keba. If Brendan Venter lashes out once more to the public I will take my Springbok jersey..burn it and post it on twitter so the whole world can see what I think of him, AC and their pathetic team.

  • Tiaan Janse van Renburg

    They know in how much Shit they are so that is the reasons for all the “Non Professional” comments they are making to the public. They are out of answers and lies. It is sad to see that a coach do not even speak about winning and that they don’t believe winning in sports are everything. Its the same Wayde van Niekerk says he only runs for third place – would anyone back him then?

    Now all of a sudden COSATU also wants a piece of the pie……POLITICS!!!! I don’t care what they show on SABC or wherever but leave our commentators alone. they saw they failed with a march action to take out ZUPTA and now they want to get attention somewhere else. I actually hope that if COSATU will end up to boycott the rugby that New Zealand will pull out and say they don’t want to play rugby with all this crap going around. All this is piling up and somewhere something will explode after all.

    What slap in the face will that be for South Africa Rugby!!!

  • Barry Smith

    Good article. Enjoyed the read. A sad place for our Rugby to be!

  • D Barnes

    Ok – fair and accurate article.

    There way I see it, SA rugby is in for tough years until the world cup. SA has the potential to compete toe to toe with NZ and there’s no doubt about that. However, they wont and the reasons are glaringly obvious.

    a) Selection: There is enough black talent coming through the system in SA rugby, we have come a long way since 1994. Transformation is important and investments into previously advantage areas of the country must continue. However, enforcing the quota system in sports is just senseless. Let the coach pick the best side available. This is international sports where the best of the best compete, one weak link is exposed quickly at international level, forget NZ. SA must compete with the likes of OZ, ENG, IRE etc… Here SA rugby needs to look at this and re-negotiate with the politicians who generally just destroy almost everything they touch these days. I am black by the way.

    b) I get the feeling that NZ coaching staff are pretty ruthless in their selection, planning and execution. They know what exactly to do and execution is generally flawless. In fact, you often get a sense that they were not happy with their 36 – 10 win agains Arg, which is scary. Their head space is on a different planet and why not. This alone means SA will not win tomorrow.

    c) Game plan: I know that SA needs to play enterprising ball in hand rugby, however, this cannot be done over night. In my view, SA must get the basics right and play to our strength first and for most. By that I mean, AC should focus on i) Making sure we dominate set pieces (scrums, lineouts and breakdowns). I emphasize again, DOMINATE! meanign stealing about 30-40% of opposition ball during set pieces. This must be a non-negotiable… ii) Get an accurate kicking game – I don’t mean kick all the time, but when we kick, we must clever (e.g. behind the rush defence) and on the mark (gain yards and out). iii) Once all the above is in place, our running game becomes much much easier and we can attack with confidence. Running game takes time and there will be mistakes but if you’re strong in set pieces and have an accurate kicking game, the contest is already half way won in my view.

    d) Lastly and probably our weakest link at the moment, beyond crazy selection, is the 9-10 position. I would say SA’s current 9-10 combo quality ranks 5 maybe 6th in the world if not worst. I like Janjties and have nothing against the poor lad but I dont get the impression that he will win us the world cup. Equally, Ross Cronje is ok but nothing exciting and/or spectatular. To be fair, SA has always lacked at 10 (e.g. Morne Steyn) but our strength was always a world class (if not the best) at 9 (Fourie Dupreez, Joost etc). At this point, we are very average in these positions.

    Consequently, AC’s team will be ranked 4th or 5th at best, I dont see Boks improving. Forget the Rugby Championship, the end of year tour is going to be very very tough. I dont see us beating the likes of Ireland, France and possibly Wales at home. Mark my words

  • George

    Mr. Bok coach and assistant coach.
    A good loser is a loser. I teach my kids that the physical side of the game is a 10% deal, but the mental approach is 90% of the deal. If you believe you cant, you are 100% correct.
    And yes Brendon Venter, I stopped watching Springbok rugby last year with that shocking performance you call a so-called professional side.
    Walk like champions, talk like champions, act like champions, believe like champions, train like champions and you are on your way to becoming a champion. Sadly the Boks are thinking like they are playing, Losers.

  • Peter Stemmet

    Probably the best article I’ve read all week. Our problems are several fold sadly.

    Firstly Venter having a go at the fans is unacceptable. Yet it was allowed without consequence from the suits.

    Secondly Coetzee must go. I was against him to start with because he showed his limitations as a coach at the Stormers. By the way if you’re in doubt as to those limitations I have only two words for you: Elton Jantjies! Compare Jantjies under Coetzee and under Ackermann. And don’t say there’s a difference between Super Rugby and international because Jantjies was on loan at the Stormers for one season under Coetzee and was just as ineffective.

    Thirdly, in my view we are in rugby what Germany is in football. Similarly what Brazil is in football, New Zealand is in rugby. Can you imagine Germany preparing to play a big match and the coaching staff say they’re not at that level yet where they can compete? There would be an outcry!

    Germany was on the decline in the late 1990s/early 2000s and they turned things around. They dumped their traditional ways and embraced a more modern approach. A lot of guys didn’t like it but they pushed on and now look!

    We need to do a Germany … sadly it will require the suits to come to the party and our administrators are more interested in presidential suite tickets and parking bays at the front door than growing the sport.

  • Corne van Vuuren

    Our problems lie much deeper than just Coetzee.

    Our rugby is administered by amateurs, after 20 years of playing in Super Rugby and Trination/Rugby Championship we have not learnt the lessons nevessry to be world leaders.
    1. No clear development program by SARU to improve coaching, no continuity or succession from outgoing coaches to newly appointed coaches.
    2. No central contracting of core group, thus no protection the intellectual property and experience of our senior players.
    3. No transparency or honesty regarding transformation, how to deal with underperforming players or criticism allowed of under performing players.
    4. No collective effort nor synergy from those in power of SA rugby.
    5. No transparency in regards to selection policy.
    6. No “fair” distribution of talent, if the Bulls, Stormers or Sharks can contract all the top players in one position just to undermine SA rugby they will. How often do we see top players being benched for half a season because he doesn’t get game time?
    7. School rugby coaching still focuses on “the big guy” must get the ball.

    I am embarressed about what is happening to our rugby, and yes, I agree Coetzee is out of his depth, but the truth is SARU is out of their depth.

  • Christo

    That is why tennis is the sport of kings and not rugby. Where will you ever hear Federer saying winning is not important when he is facing Nadal in the Wimbledon final? In tennis you lose money when you lose a match. Big money. If you lose the Wimbledon final you lose R 20 000 000.
    Do the same with rugby. Then you will see them play. No win no pay.

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