Springbok coach Allister Coetzee’s number is up and South African Rugby’s leadership review will confirm his 11 wins in 25 Tests is not worthy of a further two year investment.
Coetzee was appointed on a four year contract to take the Springboks to the 2019 World Cup in Japan, but with the proviso that his win record is 65 percent at the end of the second year. Coetzee’s Boks won 44% of their games in 2016 and 2017, with this year’s 53% not significantly better than the low of 33% in 2016.
The Boks in 2016 won four from 12 Tests and in 2017 they won seven from 13 Tests.
In my Business Day Newspaper column I wrote the result seemed almost inevitable for the Springboks in Cardiff; so too the performance or lack thereof in the opening 20 minutes.
Wales won for a third successive time against the Springboks in the last three years. In the history of the game the Welsh have only beaten the Springboks four times.
Wales, since Warren Gatland took charge as coach, have won four times in 35 against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Three of those have been against the Boks and one was against Australia many years back.
Wales, depleted through injury and unavailability, somehow triumphed against a Springbok team that failed to fire in the opening 20 minutes and conceded three tries in the opening half hour.
The Boks currently are somewhere off the pace. If you want to know by just how much then compare what the All Blacks did to France and Wales. They won by 20 and 15 points respectively. The Boks won by one point against France and lost by two to Wales.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has not delivered in two seasons, despite his protests that the Boks are a team on the rise. They are not in terms of results, performance or pedigree when it comes to those players selected over the course of the last two season’s 25 Tests.
The South African Rugby Union bosses can’t continue to invest in Coetzee. There are 18 Tests before the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, and that is enough time to improve the Springboks.
There is enough talent in this country and abroad for the Springboks to be a top three team and not the 6th best in the world.
The Boks should not be losing to Wales. They should not be taking 57 points in New Zealand against the All Blacks and they certainly should not be leaving Dublin with a 35-point differential against Ireland.
Coetzee has been defiant all season, in terms of his approach and his selections. He has talked about continuity and about keeping faith in those players who he believes to be the best.
But he has invested in players who have won just 44 percent over 25 Tests. He has invested in players who haven’t beaten the world’s best teams. He has presided over the most infamous record-breaking sequence in Springbok history.
The failure is obvious to everyone except Coetzee. His post match rhetoric has been as disappointing as the team’s results. There has been nothing to suggest Coetzee could improve South Africa’s results over the next 18 months because he has been insistent that he has been doing it the right way every weekend.
There will be a review of Coetzee’s season and hopefully there will be transparency in what this review delivers.
I’d hope common sense is the victor this month and that there is an acknowledgement from SA Rugby’s bosses that they got it wrong with Coetzee.
There is still time to get it right and there is no crime in having got it wrong two years ago. The crime would be in retaining the status quo.
England, post 2015, are an example of how the quality of a coach can transform the standing of a team. England under Stuart Lancaster were awful but the same players have lost just once in 23 Tests since Eddie Jones took over.
The coach is more than the bus that transports the players. A coach does make a difference and Rassie Erasmus, back in South Africa as the Director of Rugby for all National Teams, will spearhead that change of fortunes.
Erasmus can double up on the role of Director and Head coach, and he too will be judged according to results.
Give him the responsibility and most importantly give him the 18 months free of the inherited baggage of Coetzee.
The Springboks don’t need a four-year plan. They need to beat England in a three-Test series in June next year. That is how quickly things can change.
I’ll never despair when it comes to the Springboks because the factory of playing talent remains strong. It’s the identification at national level that has been questionable in the past two years.
More of the same will only yield more of the same in results.
There is no one Messiah to the Springboks’ resurrection, but we’ll only know if Erasmus can replicate what he did at Munster if he is given the responsibility to do it his way.
Erasmus, like Coetzee, will be judged on results, which is the way it should be in any professional sport.
Sport24 broke down the Springboks year in numbers
3 – How many teams the Boks beat this year; Argentina, Italy and France
5 – Most tries scored by a Bok player; Jesse Kriel
12 – Springbok debuts handed out this year
32 – Tries conceded
35 – How many points the Boks lost by against Ireland in their 38-3 hammering
39 – Tries scored
41 – The number of Springboks used by Coetzee this year
44 – South Africa’s overall win percentage under Coetzee
53.8 – South Africa’s win percentage in 2017
57 – The infamous number of points the Boks shipped in Albany; their biggest loss ever
123 – Most points by a Bok player; Elton Jantjies
296 – Points conceded
336 – Points scored