Allister Coetzee says he was offered a ‘ceremonial’ role as Springbok coach in 2018, which would have meant the ‘indignity’ of reporting to Rassie Erasmus.
This is revealed in a letter sent from Coetzee to SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux via his legal representatives. SA Rugby has confirmed the authenticity of the letter to TimesLIVE, which is in possession of it.
In the letter, Coetzee takes no responsibility for the Springboks’ poor performances over the past two years, which saw them win just 11 of 25 Tests, blaming everything but himself.
According to the letter, Coetzee met with SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux on 18 January and was told his contract as Springbok coach would be terminated.
Coetzee says he was told if he wanted to remain employed by SA Rugby, he would be the ‘ceremonial’ Bok coach with Erasmus, the director of rugby, in charge of the team.
‘At this meeting‚ you [Roux] represented the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and I was represented by Mr Piet Heymans of Sport Employees Unite‚ although I was also personally present in the meeting‚’ wrote Coetzee in his letter.
‘In the context of the engagements between you and I prior to the aforesaid meeting‚ it was made plain to me that the meeting would deal with the anticipated performance review and its procedures as contemplated by my employment contract.
‘Instead‚ the meeting was used as a platform to inform me of SARU’s decision that it intends to‚ inter alia‚ terminate my contract of employment with immediate effect.
‘You informed me that the decision was taken by Mark Alexander (President of SARU)‚ Francois Davids (Deputy President) and James Stoffberg (Vice President) and mandated you as the CEO of SARU to inform me of the decision.
‘You further informed me that a further aspect of the decision is that my services will be terminated regardless of the outcome of the anticipated performance review‚ as contemplated by my employment contract.
‘And‚ should I wish to remain in SARU’s employment‚ I will be reduced to a ceremonial coach‚ and further that Johan Erasmus (‘Rassie’) has already been employed to replace me and is already performing the duties of the Springbok Coach. Should I be reduced to the position of a ceremonial coach I would have to face the indignity of reporting to Rassie.
‘I also find it deeply reprehensible that‚ notwithstanding the fact that I have at all relevant times displayed the utmost good faith towards SARU‚ SARU has not‚ as a minimum‚ returned the favour.
‘In any event‚ SARU is contractually obliged to exercise utmost good faith towards me. The fact that a decision has been made that I will be reduced to a ceremonial coach should I resist any attempt by SARU to terminate my services does not only constitute an unfair labour practice but again infringes my right to dignity and equality.’
Coetzee claims he was set up to fail as Bok coach.
‘I was the most successful Super Rugby Coach at the time of my appointment and was requested to return to Springbok rugby from Japan because my country needed me.
‘My treatment since my return suggested that elements in SARU embarked on a deliberate attempt to undermine me from the word go and to create the public impression of incompetence on my part whilst wilfully obstructing my efforts to be successful.
‘I will not allow elements in SARU to wilfully destroy me and render me unemployable as was done to Peter De Villiers.
‘I am not interested in money and that I will fight to protect my hard-earned reputation which is in the process of being deliberately soiled publicly by elements within SARU.’
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