AT THE start of the Rugby Championship in September, I wrote this about Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, “I am as frustrated as the next guy, but to discard the coach now is plain daft. It says more about ourselves than it does about the coach. We call ourselves supporters, so let’s support him and give him the space to make mistakes and possibly learn from them. No one has ever built a successful side in three months, especially from scratch.”
Three months later, I am struggling to believe these words. Has the coach been given enough time? Has he been supported? Has he learnt from his mistakes? Has he built a side he can build on next year?
Coetzee has been at the helm since April and his team has played 11 games. So the answer to the first question is yes, he has had time to make an impact despite his late appointment. To play 11, lose seven and win four is pathetic, in anyone’s book.
It is even worse when one considers the sides which have beaten the Boks – Argentina and Italy. Yes, the Italians, who are better known for producing soccer players and sports cars.
Many people (and not just black people) supported his appointment and hoped he would produce similar results to those he did with Western Province and the Stormers.
That support, I’m afraid, has disappeared like mist on a summer’s morning. There are many bleating, “I told you so” and those who were willing to give him a chance, are utterly disappointed.
He has let everyone down as he has managed to turn a bad Bok side into an even worse outfit with no discernible plan to turn things around. If we were losing with youngsters and some of the available black talent, we would forgive him and would believe him if he says he is building for the future.
If he had adopted the ball-in-hand rugby most people favour in the modern era, he would be gladly given a second chance next year.
So why should we keep him? Carel du Plessis was fired within one season, so there has been a precedent. In Du Plessis’s defence, he had a clear idea of how he believed rugby should be played and he stuck to it which was clear when the Boks destroyed the Wallabies 61-22 in his last game.
Can anyone see what Coetzee is trying to do and make sense of what he says? I can not. He said, “I don’t know about the Welsh, but I do know they are a quality side”.
I rest my case. This is no time to pledge racial solidarity. In as much as it pains me to say this, Coetzee must go.