SHAKES SAYS HE’S sorry BUT...
SA Rugby cautions against knee-jerk reactions, but it will not shy away from hard choices Shakes Mashaba has written a letter of apology, but this time the coach might have gone too far
SA Rugby pleaded refused to speak about rumours that Springbok coach Allister Coetzee would get the sack after his team concluded its disastrous tour of Europe with last night’s game against Wales. SA Rugby president Mark Alexander issued a statement following last week’s 20-18 defeat against Italy, the Boks’ first loss against that country, in an attempt to assuage unhappy fans and stakeholders. The general gist of the release was an admission of the depths to which the Boks have fallen – they had lost seven of their 11 tests this year – and a commitment to a systems overhaul to get to the bottom of why SA Rugby was at the risk of becoming a tier-two nation.
But an insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that Coetzee would not see out the year as Springbok coach due to an alleged clause in his contract that says his team cannot drop as low as fifth in the world rankings.
South Africa’s loss to Italy relegated them to fifth in the world, a result that means they’ll be hard-pressed to be fourth by May next year, when the 2019 World Cup draw is made. The significance of being fourth is that the Boks, who won’t get another opportunity to improve their ranking before the draw, would get a favourable seeding at the draw.
Asked if such a clause existed, Andy Colquhoun, general manager of communications at SA Rugby, said: “We don’t talk about people’s contracts, we don’t talk about what clauses may or may not be in their contracts – that’s between the coach and the CEO.
“As to the speculation around the coach’s position, we don’t talk about that either.”
Another official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said he didn’t know if the clause existed, but if it did, Coetzee “was in serious trouble”.
But he said as far as he knew, the team’s shocking season would only be discussed at SA Rugby’s executive council meeting on December 8.
He did suggest there was great unhappiness with Coetzee’s work at SA Rugby. “The coach is not giving us something to work with,” he said. “We thought Allister would be sensitive to the issues of youth and was someone who would buy into transformation – he doesn’t seem to be doing that.”
Curiously, the official suggested SA Rugby didn’t really have a leg to stand on if it wanted to sack Coetzee on the basis of performance.
“Other coaches also made a mess of things,” he said. “You have to remember that Heyneke Meyer was in line to be retained despite losing to Argentina and Japan for the first time last year. So we don’t have the credibility to deal with this on the basis of performance.”
SA Rugby sent out another statement from Alexander yesterday outlining its plans for a Springbok turnaround strategy, a planned revamp of governance structures and a review of the selection of overseas-based players.
Alexander again apologised for the Boks’ abysmal season, but cautioned against “knee-jerk decisions”.
“We will start by speaking to the coach and the other team role players for their assessment ... we will take feedback from forthcoming indabas and we must critically review our selection policy relating to overseas-based players.
“But if tough decisions have to be made, we will not shy away from making them.”
Suspended Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba is set to be sacked as Bafana Bafana coach on Thursday. This is according to a source within the SA Football Association (Safa) who also revealed that the coach had penned a letter of apology to the organisation’s national executive committee. Despite his grovelling, the source said Mashaba’s fate would most likely be sealed on Thursday when he appears before a Safa disciplinary committee. He faces almost the same charges that saw former Safa vice-president Mwelo Nonkonyana suspended and eventually expelled three years ago. Nonkonyana breached the association’s communication policy when he said former coach Gordon Igesund should resign if he failed to do well in the 2014 CAF African Nations Championship. It is Mashaba’s turn to face the possibility of walking if he is found guilty of gross misconduct, insubordination and bringing the association into disrepute. The coach was suspended with immediate effect two weeks ago after his outburst following his team’s 2-1 win over Senegal. Our source said Mashaba asked Safa CEO Dennis Mumble to write a letter of apology to the executive. “Coach Mashaba has, however, asked that we convey to the national executive committee and the president of the association, in particular, his sincerest apologies if he has offended anyone and he unreservedly asked for forgiveness for yesterday’s actions,” reads part of the letter, which City Press has seen. The official said Mashaba not only violated the association’s communication policy, but also breached certain clauses of his employment contract. “There is prima facie evidence he may have violated the policies of the association and that he has a case to answer. Depending on the merit of the case, there are several sanctions that can be imposed on him, including being fined, a warning or even dismissal,” said the official. He said the coach was reprimanded on several occasions, not only about his comments in the media, but also due to how he treated the media in general. But a fortnight ago, he went a step too far by allegedly hurling insults at the Safa leadership, including president Danny Jordaan and Mumble. According to the Safa communication policy on its website, the sentence for gross misconduct and insubordination is dismissal. “For a dismissal to be fair, the employee should normally have received previous warnings for misconduct, unless the misconduct in itself is so severe as to justify dismissal on the grounds that a continued employment relationship would be intolerable,” reads the policy. It continues: “Staff members, when speaking to the media, must refrain from referring to Safa in the third person. In other words, do not talk about ‘Safa’ as if you are not part of it. “Members must avoid discussing their grievances with the media before fully exhausting the internal remedies available within Safa. Failure to do so shall be dealt with through the company’s disciplinary procedures. “Employees and officials must avoid casting aspersions upon their fellow employees or officials or bringing the association into disrepute.”
PENALTY Shakes Mashaba will likely know his fate this Thursday DECISION TIME Rumours that Allister Coetzee will face the chop have been dismissed by SA Rugby