Be pre­pared for an­other Bok fail­ure

Coet­zee’s record abroad makes for ter­ri­ble read­ing – He has won only one game over­seas in 10 at­tempts

The Star Late Edition - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

South African rugby fans shouldn’t ex­pect a mir­a­cle turn-around by the Spring­boks against France this week­end. In fact, an­other de­feat looks very much to be on the cards.

There are vir­tu­ally no rea­sons to be pos­i­tive and up­beat – ex­cept per­haps that Duane Ver­meulen will likely be back in the team and bring a new vi­brancy to the pack – but plenty of rea­sons to be very wor­ried that an­other poor show­ing by Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s men is in the off­ing.

First and fore­most is the fact Coet­zee and his man­age­ment team have failed to find the recipe to win out­side of SA’s borders.

The un­der-fire coach’s over­all record reads: played 22, won nine, lost 11 and drawn two for a 40.9% win rate.

Coet­zee’s Boks have won only one match away from home – ear­lier this sea­son against Ar­gentina in Salta (4123). And, let’s not for­get that this year’s Ar­gentina side were hardly a fac­tor in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, los­ing all of their matches and not pick­ing up one log point in the competition.

The other nine Tests abroad have ei­ther ended in de­feat (eight times) or a draw (once). The de­feats in 2016 came against Ar­gentina (24-26), Aus- tralia (17-23), New Zealand (1341), England (21-37), Italy (18-20) and Wales (13-27); and this year the Boks have also lost on the road to New Zealand (0-57) and now Ire­land (3-38). They also drew with Aus­tralia (23-23) ear­lier this year.

Added to this, and en­sur­ing the Boks’ task in Paris will be as dif­fi­cult as it was in Al­bany, Dublin, Lon­don and Cardiff, among other places in the last two years, is the fact that the French are per­haps even more des­per­ate than the Boks to win this week­end.

Les Bleus are hurt­ing af­ter go­ing down 18-38 to the All Blacks last week­end and los­ing all three Tests to Coet­zee’s men in SA in June – a four-match los­ing streak that has not gone down well in France. It is un­der­stood that French rugby au­thor­i­ties and the me­dia are call­ing it vi­tal that their team beat the Boks to avoid a “cri­sis” in French rugby.

Fur­ther­more, to­day’s an­nounce­ment of the host coun­try for the 2023 World Cup by World Rugby in Lon­don is likely to also be at the back of the minds of the French team and sup­port­ers if, as ex­pected, it is SA who come out on top, and not France. Ire­land are the other coun­try in the run­ning, but are not ex­pected to fea­ture promi­nently in the vote. France though have been very vo­cal – and an­gry – about los­ing out to SA as the “pre­ferred can­di­date”, an­nounced two weeks ago.

If in­deed, SA win the vote – a ma­jor­ity of 39 – there is sure to be a ma­jor back­lash by Les Bleus who will want to make a point that World Rugby and the vot­ers got it wrong and that French rugby should still be taken se­ri­ously.

And then there is the pres­sure on Coet­zee to pick a team that will be able to turn things around within a week.

Every se­lec­tion to­mor­row will come un­der scru­tiny, and prob­a­bly be ques­tioned, every player picked will feel the heat come Satur­day and not only will Coet­zee be un­der the mi­cro­scope again, but his as­sis­tant coaches Franco Smith and Bren­dan Venter as well, men he picked and who at one stage were thought of as the guys who would fix the Boks.

It’s a big week for the Boks – and French – on many fronts.

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