Saru mark Coetzee’s Judgement Day
THE South African Rugby Union (Saru) yesterday neither backed nor sacked Springbok rugby coach Allister Coetzee, after he oversaw one of the worst seasons in South African rugby history last year.
Instead, a terse statement from the governing body revealed that in a week’s time it would announce the outcome of its coaching review process. Intriguingly, Saru president, Mark Alexander, said that a number of decisions had been taken following discussion of the report into last year.
There was no confirmation that Coetzee would remain as head coach after a season that saw the Boks suffer calamitous defeats, including a first-ever loss to Italy. It would appear that the alleged absence of a first-year clause governing performance in Coetzee’s four-year-contract may save his bacon at this stage.
Nevertheless, speculation continues that Saru are on the hunt for a new head coach and that top of the list is Munster coach Rassie Erasmus, who would become available for the position in late May when the Dublin team’s Heinekin Cup commitments would be concluded – just before the Boks’ June home series against France.
Ironically, the reported original plan before the appointment of the 2016 Springbok coach staff was that Ermasus would aid Coetzee in the role of technical analyst. Instead, Erasmus took the attractive offer from the Irish province.
There has also been talk of a possible recall of former Bok coach Jake White. The Montpellier coach has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for a national job. However, it is unlikely that Saru will return to White.
“We have reviewed all aspects of (last year’s) performance,” said Alexander. “We have spoken to the players, as well as the coach and critically reviewed the season.
“We have decided on a number of actions to make which we believe will be significant changes and will announce these as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, I would ask our supporters to have a little more patience and understand that certain conversations need to take place before formal announcements can be made,” Alexander concluded.
In other words, it would seem that Saru are not satisfied with the 2016 performances and are looking to make changes that will regain the support and confidence of increasingly impatient supporters and stakeholders. What seems certain is that the Bok coaching and management team this year will show significant changes to the one that did duty last year.