Saru mark Coet­zee’s Judge­ment Day

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MIKE GREEN­AWAY

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.

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