Coetzee ready for sack after Boks’ horror year
South Africa coach Allister Coetzee accepted the sack was a real possibility after overseeing a woeful 2016 for the Springboks. But he insisted he alone was not responsible for a desperate run of results that culminated with Saturday’s 2713 defeat by Wales in Cardiff.
It was South Africa’s eighth Test loss of 2016 — the most they had ever suffered in a calendar year-with the season yielding just four wins from 12 full internationals.
On the way they suffered their heaviest home defeat of all time, going down 57-15 to world champions New Zealand in Durban in October, while last week’s 20-18 reverse in Florence was their first loss to Italy. Although Coetzee was appointed on a four-year contract after succeeding Heyneke Meyer following last year’s World Cup, it is hard to see how he will remain in post for much longer.
“I don’t fear anything, to be honest,” said Coetzee. “Collectively, we’ve got to understand that it’s not just one person that can take responsibility for that. “If I’m solely held responsible for that, then I will walk away.” Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett said better national coaches than Coetzee had been fired.
“I feel dreadfully sorry for Allister because he is a decent guy, but better Springboks coaches than him have been fired,” said Mallett, an influential and respected TV analyst.
Meanwhile outgoing Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss promised he would be “ruthless with the truth”. The hooker, who had already announced his international retirement, bowed out of Test rugby against Wales.
“I’m not here for a ‘pity party’, I am responsible,” Strauss told reporters.
“I did everything I could this year,” added Strauss, thrust into the leadership after the retirements of Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez and Victor Matfield following a 2015 World Cup where the Springboks came third. “I made a lot of mistakes, I knew I would. But in every situation I put the Springboks first and really gave it my all.”
Minutes after the final whistle, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander announced plans for a wide-ranging review, where the “number one priority is a turnaround strategy for the Springbok team”.
The 65-times capped Strauss responded by saying: “I will be ruthless with the truth... When I get my opportunity at the right places I will make honest contributions.”
Coetzee, paying tribute to Strauss, said: “The big thing for me is that there wouldn’t have been any other captain currently playing in South Africa that could have handled the pressure he has handled.”—
PARIS: France’s centre Wesley Fofana (2nd R) is tackled by New Zealand’s winger Julian Savea (C) during the rugby union Test match between France and New Zealand on Saturday, at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris.