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

CityPress - - Front Page - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­press.co.za TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

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.”

PHOTO: SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU / BACK­PAGEPIX

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

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