SA Rugby dodges Coetzee dilemma
The one question keeping rugby fans awake at night – the future of Springbok coach Allister Coetzee – was apparently not discussed at SA Rugby’s general council on Friday.
After a disastrous first year in charge of the Boks, Coetzee, whose team lost an unprecedented eight games in one year, only gets his moment in the hot seat on Tuesday, where he will brief the Springboks steering committee about why his team was so directionless.
“It [Coetzee’s future] was not on the agenda,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We didn’t want to cloud issues with preconceived ideas. We’ll wait for the committee to assess Allister.” With each passing week, the picture that is taking shape appears to be that Coetzee is not going anywhere, what with SA Rugby having admitted it would probably record a loss this year. Sacking Coetzee would mean giving him a reported R13 million payout, getting rid of his support staff – most of whom are full-time employees – and paying a new coach.
What they did in the meantime was agree on groundbreaking decisions to reform the governing body’s structures.
As reported, the most eye-catching changes were:
Permitting a 74% shareholding in the provincial teams by private equity partners;
Taking the responsibility of appointing the Bok coach and the CEO away from the general council; and
Increasing the representation of independents and players on the executive council to five.
Having resisted these changes for so long, the obvious question to ask was: What led to their wholesale acceptance?
“There’s nothing like poverty to push you into some realism,” the source said. “[SA Rugby president] Mark [Alexander] made a very passionate and powerful environmental scan of our situation – from the unattractiveness of rugby to investors and the need to make it attractive again.”
SA Rugby’s move got praise in the form of outsiders who deal with the business side of sport. Kelvin Watt, the executive chairperson of Repucom SA, said it was “a positive step in the right direction”.
“You can’t play professional sport with an amateur structure. It’s a positive move in the right direction to start breaking down the control small provinces have over rugby,” he said.
Watt said that, if anything, SA Rugby should have gone further with its changes.
“What they haven’t done right is to have nine provinces and 14 professional teams. You can’t do that because you don’t have the money to run that.
“They also haven’t looked at transformation. In the Sevens team, transformation is not an issue. But it is in the 15s team. With both teams run by the same organisation, why is that?”
HANGING ON Allister Coetzee