Boks have no answers

Allister Coetzee admits that the players and coaches ‘will have to take a hard look at themselves’ in the wake of the Springboks’ record 57-15 defeat to the All Blacks at Kings Park, reports JON CARDINELLI in Durban.

Coetzee and his charges have added yet another unwanted record to their tally. Earlier this year, the Boks suffered their first-ever loss to Ireland on home soil, and then their first-ever defeat to the Pumas in Argentina. When they went down 41-13 to the All Blacks in Christchurch, many felt that the Boks had finally hit rock bottom.

On Saturday, however, the Boks plunged to new levels of incompetence. At Kings Park, they conceded nine tries (even more than they leaked in Christchurch last month), and failed to score a try of their own.

Coetzee’s Boks have found their way into the record books once more. The 42-point defeat in Durban is the Boks’ worst ever on home soil, even worse than the 52-16 loss to the All Blacks back in 2003.

‘To say this is a dark day is an understatement,‘ said Coetzee afterwards. The Bok coach looked to be in a state of shock when he fronted the media at the press conference. On his left, captain Adriaan Strauss wore an expression of disbelief.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all just a bad dream. Coetzee and Strauss weren’t surprised when they were told that the Bok fans deserve better and that South African rugby should hold itself to a higher standard.

‘This is very painful,’ said Coetzee in a small, quiet voice. ‘There are no excuses. The All Blacks showed that they are in a better class. We’re hurting after that performance, even to the extent where we are very embarrassed.’

The Boks were in the contest for 60 minutes. While the All Blacks scored four tries during that period, they only held a 22-15 lead. Thereafter, the visitors put 35 unanswered points past the Boks.

Neither Coetzee nor Strauss had an answer for why the Boks capitulated in such a manner. Coetzee praised a New Zealand system that sees the top players managed and geared to peak in the biggest Tests of the season.

Strauss said it was not for a lack of effort that the Boks lost by a record score – even though the Bok defence and attitude in contact was absolutely shambolic in the final quarter.

‘As coaches and players, we will need to have a hard look at ourselves after this performance. We felt that we planned well for this match, and we started the game well.

‘We’ve definitely taken a step back with this performance. The end-of-year tour [to Europe] now becomes so important. That will show whether we are moving forward or not.’

Coetzee said that the coaching indaba, which will take place later this month, is crucial to the future of South African rugby. The Bok coach intimated that his players don’t have the skills to match the All Blacks at present, and that the South African rugby system does not serve the national side’s interests.

‘We always have to start from scratch after a World Cup. It’s not easy. You want to know what I will do with the players now? I have to be patient. If there are players competing elsewhere who I feel can strengthen the team, I will bring them into the squad. But I can tell you now, there aren’t many out there.

‘It will be good to speak to other coaches about the areas where we are lacking. Our kicking game is not working and our aerial skills are not what they should be. It’s not just a problem at the Boks.’

The Boks will face the Barbarians, England, Italy and Wales on their tour in November.

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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