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.

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