Coetzee under more pressure
WHILE the 23 that made it on to the pitch last weekend against the Irish have been scrutinised and analysed by coach and country, it is probably now worth casting an eye over the man at the top.
This as Allister Coetzee heads towards the end of his second year in charge of the national side.
It is unsurprising that the coach is coming under such scrutiny as the result against Ireland has seemingly broken the camel’s back when it comes to public support.
There have been legitimate excuses for Coetzee struggling, especially when he first began his tenure, but as time has worn on, there has been very little change.
Indeed, it all began back in June of 2016 with, quite poetically, a match against Ireland.
There was a lot of hype and hope around Coetzee’s entrance at the top, with many saying his time was due after earning his stripes and sacrificing a lot for the SA rugby cause.
No doubt, at the time, Coetzee was the man for the job. However, the men in charge of putting him up in the job made things almost impossible. Saru, having disposed of Heyneke Meyer in December 2015, waited until April the next year – less than two months before the Newlands Test against Ireland – to appoint Coetzee.
The man was on the back foot from the start, and it showed with a 20-26 loss in Cape Town. The Boks scrapped their way back to win the series, but the unimpressive performance and directionless attack and defence already drew questions.
The Rugby Championship of that year was a disaster, with Coetzee only winning two games. There was the historic first loss to Argentina in Argentina, 25-37, and the 57-15 drubbing at Kings Park against the All Blacks. The Boks only managed to beat Australia in Pretoria thanks to some heavily outdated tactics.
Coetzee recalled almost forgotten-about Bok Morné Steyn to kick the daylights of the Wallabies, indicating no forward thinking or tangible plan.
The end-of-year tour really was the cherry on the to as the Boks walked away winless, with a historic fist-ever defeat to Italy. Current assistant coach Brendan Venter the man behind that madness. 2016 was soon relegated to the deepest corner of Bok memories as Coetzee mounted his comeback. A far more fired up Bok side turned up with attacking intent to bulldoze the French in a series whitewash.
Argentina was well dealt with, and a first away win under Coetzee was achieved, but then came two draws against a shaky Wallabies side, and another historic defeat to the All Blacks, in Albany, 57-0
In terms of a report card, the French series must rank pretty high in terms of positives for the coach.
However, his crowning moment could be argued as the bounce back, one-point loss to New Zealand in Cape Town at the end of the Rugby Championship.
That being said, it is hard to imagine a Springbok side that counts its greatest moment over two years a loss – regardless of opposition.
Coetzee’s race may be run, his chances seem to be up. With three matches left, and none of them impressive enough to turn things around, it seems foolish to maintain a coach with 40% in record (22 games; nine wins) Remaining tour matches November 18: v France, Stade de France,
Saint Denis. 9.45pm November 25: v Italy, Stadio Euganeo, Padova. 3pm December 2: v Wales Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. 4.30pm
HARD TIMES: Coach Allister Coetzee has a 40% win record since taking over the Springbok team last April, this includes nine wins, two draws and 11 losses in 22 matches.