Dan Retief

Allister clearly retained as Springbok coach

Posted in Home by Dan Retief on 18 Dec 2016
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If there’s one thing SA Rugby office-bearers are good at it is fudging – i.e. dealing with something in a vague or inadequate way.

Last week a series of meetings was held to discuss the performance of national coach Allister Coetzee and how that impacted on the showings of the Springboks.

Typically SARU didn’t frame the agendas of the meetings quite so bluntly but what else could they have been about given new president Mark Alexander’s own summation that the Springboks’ results were “profoundly disappointing.”

So what one can deduce from SARU’s carefully worded statements is that Allister Coetzee is still the Springbok coach and that he’ll continue to hold the post into 2017.

Some media comments were that a decision about Coetzee’s future would be made in January when the new season shifts into gear but the only outcome of SARU’s deliberations must surely be that “Toetie” stays on because to make a change in five weeks’ time would simply dump the next incumbent in the same predicament in which Coetzee found himself.

The Super Rugby tournament, with no alterations made to the complex system that no-one liked this year, starts over the weekend of February 24 so any new coach will find himself just where Coetzee was – in a job he is unable to get on with.

Super Rugby will take precedence until France turn up to fill the June international window (as Ireland did this year) and there will be no space to fit in the demands of the national coach and the Springboks.

Given the experience of 2016 it stands to reason that SARU would not want to hang the national coach out to dry again and also highly unlikely that any of those mentioned as possible replacements would touch the position under those circumstances.

So Coetzee is still the coach; having been “grilled” about his undeniable mistakes by such towering experts on coaching as Mark Alexander, Jurie Roux, James Stoffberg and Francois Davids.

There’s been no word on whether the rumours of Brendan Venter being asked to attach himself to the Boks are true, or whether SARU might call in a little Kiwi expertise.

Is Allister’s former superior Jake White in the loop or is it still daggers drawn on that front?

Does Coetzee know whether he’s been retained or not?

Was a decision taken to revert to the old rule making foreign-based players ineligible for the Springboks?

Instead all there’s been is obfuscation and perhaps the most damning aspect of that is SARU’s unwillingness to back the man they appointed.

Why can’t they just say? Allister Coetzee has been retained as Springbok coach. Therein, dear readers, lies the crux of South African rugby’s predicament – it does not have a player or performance problem it has a leadership problem.

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