In-house leaks driv­ing SA Rugby to dis­trac­tion

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SA Rugby pres­i­dent Mark Alexan­der has ap­por­tioned part of the blame for the de­lay in nam­ing the changes to Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s coach­ing staff to the leaks in his of­fice and the me­dia’s re­port­ing on the mat­ter. The or­gan­i­sa­tion was sup­posed to is­sue a state­ment on who would be join­ing Coet­zee’s back-room staff with a view to strength­en­ing it by the end of the week, but when it failed to meet its own dead­line, Alexan­der voiced his frus­tra­tion with the leaks from SA Rugby and the me­dia. “The press has put us in a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion with all the stuff they’re bring­ing out,” he said. “This is sen­si­tive stuff and we keep leak­ing it. There are ne­go­ti­a­tions tak­ing place, we’re deal­ing with hu­man be­ings and peo­ple’s lives here. “This has cre­ated ma­jor is­sues for us be­cause we’re deal­ing with in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions.” Alexan­der said part of the de­lay was that they were try­ing to tie up as many loose ends as pos­si­ble. “We’re do­ing all the nec­es­sary work be­fore we make an an­nounce­ment. If we make an an­nounce­ment be­fore things are com­plete it leads to an­other round of spec­u­la­tion. “These leaks are cre­at­ing other prob­lems and put the process two weeks be­hind.” Of course, in ad­mit­ting that the leaks to me­dia were driv­ing him to dis­trac­tion, Alexan­der in­ad­ver­tently con­firmed that the spec­u­la­tion that has been do­ing the rounds has more than just a grain of truth to it. Said spec­u­la­tion is that SA Rugby is try­ing to get for­mer Spring­boks Bren­dan Ven­ter and Franco Smith to join Coet­zee’s staff in the ca­pac­ity of de­fence and back­line coach re­spec­tively. The prob­lem is that both are tied to ex­ist­ing con­tracts with Italy and the Chee­tahs, re­spec­tively. The Ital­ians, to whom Ven­ter re­cently com­mit­ted as de­fence coach un­til the 2019 World Cup, are un­der­stand­ably not keen on let­ting him go. For their part the Chee­tahs would like to see Smith con­tinue his Cur­rie Cup magic – where his team won the cup by win­ning all their games – at Su­per Rugby level. An of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said while the ex­pec­ta­tion was that the ad­di­tion of Ven­ter and Smith would strengthen the Boks, it would weaken Coet­zee’s hand as it was tan­ta­mount to “mi­cro­man­age­ment”. As part of the per­for­mance man­age­ment, the source con­firmed it was true that Coet­zee had to win the test se­ries against France in June, other­wise SA Rugby would have to part ways with him. “If he loses the first game, the process to re­place him will start.” While he wouldn’t say who was in line to re­place Coet­zee, the as­ser­tion went some way to­wards sug­gest­ing the ru­mours about for­mer SA Rugby high per­for­mance man­ager Rassie Eras­mus, now direc­tor of rugby at Ir­ish club Mun­ster, be­ing sounded out were true. The source said that, apart from the cir­cum­stances which weak­ened his hand last year – be­ing ap­pointed late, mass in­juries, deal­ing with a player drain to Europe and be­ing given in­ex­pe­ri­enced back-room staffers – Coet­zee had been un­der­whelm­ing in his first year in charge, where he lost an un­prece­dented eight tests. “He has done him­self no favours be­cause even the peo­ple who backed him feel like he has no strat­egy on how to turn things around.” Alexan­der said SA Rugby was hop­ing to make the an­nounce­ment on the changes early this week.


HELP Be­lea­guered Boks coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee, who lost an un­par­al­leled eight tests last year


FIX SA Rugby pres­i­dent Mark Alexan­der

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