Allister Coetzee has shifted the blame to his players following the Springboks’ monumental defeat to England at Twickenham, writes JON CARDINELLI in London.
The Boks’ decline continues. 2016 has witnessed historic defeats to Ireland and Argentina, a record loss to New Zealand at home and, after Saturday’s result at Twickenham, a first loss to England since 2006.
Their season record of six losses in 10 Tests suggests, rather emphatically, that the current formula is not working.
On Saturday evening, England coach Eddie Jones afforded himself a smile as he sat down to face the media. He opened the press conference by recognising the achievement of his side – a first win against South Africa since 2006 – but then stressed the need for improvement in several areas.
The achievement didn't equal that of Japan beating the Boks at the 2015 World Cup. Last year, in the wake of that result, Jones, the then Japan coach, joked that he may consider retiring to Barbados. More than 12 months later, and after England's significant wins in the Six Nations, against Australia in Australia, and now against South Africa, Jones and his charges remain hungry for more success.
By contrast, Coetzee and his players would kill for just one taste. The Bok coach wore a familiar expression when he attended the press conference on Saturday evening. There was a sameness about his message too.
Following every big defeat this season, Coetzee has lamented the poor execution and the fact that his team has been tactically outplayed. And without fail, he has commended his charges for fighting back late in the game to add some respectability to the scoreline.
‘It's hurting. It's tough times. But the team kept fighting at the end and I draw comfort from that,’ said Coetzee at Twickenham.
'‘The Bok aura is not fading. When the team gives up, then the aura is lost. At the moment, there’s been no lack of effort.’
The Bok coach then went on to detail the reasons for the team’s failure to control the contest, and ultimately win the game.
‘At times, we were passive on defence when we needed more linespeed. We didn’t handle those contestable kicks.
‘Players will have to learn how important individual errors are in big Tests and take responsibility. If we need to pick different players to make this team stronger, we will.’
Bok captain Adriaan Strauss confirmed that the visitors knew what they were in for at Twickenham. He confessed that this Bok side simply wasn’t up to the task.
‘We couldn’t handle the pressure,’ Strauss said. ‘They really tested our defence with their attack and contestable kicking. We knew it was coming, but they just executed very well and we couldn’t respond.’
Strauss played down the fact that the Boks suffered their first defeat to England in 10 years.
‘I will always take a loss personally. But it’s not about [long-term] records, it’s about what happens on the day. And today we weren’t good enough.’
Photo: David Rogers/RFU