Allister Coetzee has confirmed that he won’t step down after yet another disappointing season at the helm of the Springboks. JON CARDINELLI in Cardiff reports.
The Boks lost 24-22 to Wales on Saturday to finish their tour to the northern hemisphere with two wins from four matches and their 2017 season with seven wins from 13. Overall, Coetzee’s side has won 11 out of 25 Tests over the past two years and has a win record of 44%.
SA Rugby will conduct a full review of the season in the coming weeks. One cannot see Coetzee surviving into the new year, though.
The Boks won only seven matches in 2017. They sustained their worst loss in history – a 57-0 defeat to the All Blacks in Albany – as well as their heaviest loss to Ireland – the 38-3 hammering in Dublin in early November.
Coetzee, however, says that there is no good reason for him to step aside and let someone else take the reins.
He hit back at journalists at the post-match press conference who suggested that his tenure was at an end. Later still, while speaking to SARugbymag.co.za and the other South African journalists at the ground, Coetzee said that he would ‘never’ throw in the towel.
Wales coach Warren Gatland said at the press conference that he was more than a little relieved with the outcome. The Dragons – who went into this clash without a host of star players – led 21-3 after 36 minutes. The inexperienced side failed to land the killer blow, though, and the Boks came back in the latter stages.
Gatland felt that Wales deserved to win. Coetzee gave the impression that South Africa were unlucky to lose, and that if Malcolm Marx had been awarded a try in the first half – the TMO ruled no try – the result may have been different.
The scoreboard still read 24-22 in favour of Wales after 80 minutes, though. The result brought the curtain down on yet another disappointing season for the Boks.
Earlier this week, Coetzee laughed off rumours about a move to club side Canon Eagles in Japan. He insisted that he had a contract with SA Rugby until 2019 and that he would take the Boks to the next World Cup.
He reiterated this after the loss against Wales, and then moved to convince reporters that the Boks are on the right track.
‘I’m signed on until 2019,’ Coetzee said defiantly. ‘That’s what my contract says.
‘The team has really grown. It’s a really healthy team environment.
‘They are hurting at the moment. They feel that they let themselves down and the country down. You can only feel like that if you have a good team environment.
‘That wasn’t the case last year,’ he added. ‘Last year was a fiasco. Definitely a fiasco.’
Coetzee feels that the Boks had a ‘good year’ in 2017 despite winning just seven of their 13 matches. The Boks beat a struggling France side four times, Argentina twice, and an Italy team ranked No 13 in the world.
He ignored the fact that the Boks failed to win a single game against Australia or New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. He said that the Boks won two more games in the northern hemisphere in 2017 than they did at this point last year, and suggested that that was an argument for the side’s progress.
After that, the Bok coach grew agitated when those present said that the lack of results was in fact a big problem.
‘If you look at outcomes only, then you missing the plot completely,’ he said. ‘You have to create the opportunities for guys to come in.
‘If you think superstars are coming in [and winning games for the team], you’re living in a fool’s paradise. You’ve got to give players chances to grow. You can’t build Rome in a day.
‘This is year one. I know I have the best players in South Africa here. I know they are much better conditioned this year. With a little bit of collaboration [after the coaching indaba last October] there’s been progress.
‘If you’re going to continue to look at the negatives, then you’ll get what you’re looking for. Then you can write what you want about that. But this side is on the up.’
Regular skipper Eben Etzebeth didn’t attend the press conference due to a shoulder injury sustained in the first half of the game against Wales. An update of the lock’s condition is expected later on Sunday.
Vice-captain Siya Kolisi moved to defend the Bok coach. He said that the players needed to take responsibility for the inconsistent showing in Cardiff, and indeed the inconsistent performances earlier in the season.
‘It’s been a tough year,’ said Kolisi. ‘We play in a country where rugby means a lot. Our coach always goes to bat for us. He is always saying how amazing we are. Then as soon as something bad happens, it’s all the coach’s fault. Then people say he’s not good enough.
‘The coach has stuck by us and he has always taken the bullet for us. We are better now than we were last year, but we are never satisfied with a loss. He wants us to get better.
‘I think the Welsh team was way more mature than us,’ Kolisi added. ‘As the coach told us, you can’t come to the northern hemisphere and give away that kind of lead. The way we fought back was great, though.’
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