Stop excusing Allister Coetzee’s obvious limitations on his late appointment as Bok coach. Stop excusing every Springbok defeat on referees, weather conditions or the age-old South African retreat that the rugby gods have an issue with the Springboks, writes MARK KEOHANE.
Stop blaming politics, transformation and whatever other excuse offered up every Monday.
Stop excusing the abject failures of the South African Rugby Union’s national executive and the CEO and his operational leadership.
Just stop with the excuses and front up to the situation.
Springbok rugby, like South African rugby, is in a crisis and at the lowest point in the professional era.
Our Super Rugby challenge was diabolical and the Springbok offering has been equally abject.
Coetzee’s Springboks have historically lost to Ireland in South Africa, lost (for the first time) three successive away Rugby Championship matches and in Durban recorded the worst home beating in the history of the Springboks.
For the neutral, to be in Durban and at Kings Park was a rugby privilege. The All Blacks delivered a masterclass in very difficult conditions and on a night when the swirling and gusting wind offered more of a challenge to the All Blacks than 15 players dressed in green and (the illusion of) gold.
There is currently nothing golden about the Springboks.
The All Blacks were magnificent once they’d negotiated the wind, the timing of the offload and the 30 minutes of defensive irritation delivered as the Springboks Test-match offering.
There was a time when home-ground advantage, patriotism, mongrel, manic defence and goal-kicking won the Springboks home Tests against the All Blacks.
Not any more.
The Durban disgrace (if you are South African, alternatively, delight for Kiwis) has been coming for some time.
Manipulating the fixtures by playing the All Blacks at altitude on the back of a flight from Buenos Aires has softened the reality of the situation in the last five years, but 2016 is the watershed because there is no avoiding the reality of conceding 98 points in two Tests against the traditional foe and a try tally of 15 to 1.
The 57-15 win statistically is the worst home defeat in Springbok history. Watching the match live, from one of those seats in the heavens at Kings Park, the scoreline was kind to South Africa.
Statistically this was a Test which could easily have read closer to 80 than 60 but there was no masking the flatness, ineptness and lack of belief in a Springbok team that did everything to slow the game to a standstill and to play for damage limitation and respectability in defeat.
The Springboks offered nothing but defensive passion in the first 30 minutes. The only point of attack was to ask Morné Steyn to kick at goal. There was no belief in the Springboks' attack and there was a pre-match concession that the Boks did not have the conditioning or the appetite to match the All Blacks in intensity and pace.
The Boks played everything at a pedestrian pace but even this snail’s approach couldn’t deter the magnificence of those men in black.
This was rugby humiliation and the statistics support how damning the evening was for the Springboks: nine tries to nil, two disallowed by the TMO and two botched five metres from the tryline. Four missed goalkicks from the All Blacks and still they scored 57 points. Fourty defenders beaten, which translate to 40 Bok missed tackles. The Boks managed to break a tackle just three times. Then there’s the 30 linebreaks to 3 and 76% possession and 70 % territory.
The All Blacks in six Rugby Championship Tests scored 38 tries; the Boks scored the least of the four teams in getting eight.
How does one even talk about these two teams in the same paragraph? It’s a lie to even promote a rivalry when the result screams ridicule.
Recently elected SARU President Mark Alexander has to show decisive leadership. It is more a hopeful plea than something that will happen.
Bok coach Coetzee just a week ago dismissed media and public criticism by way of saying all that mattered was the criticism that came from within the squad.
Coetzee said he needed no outside help, did not see the need of specialist coaches and reiterated he was comfortable his assistants were good enough.
They are not. Coetzee is not. The players he has selected are not.
So too, those within SARU’s suited structures, who appointed Coetzee.
Change is all that can offer hope but there won’t be change because there won’t be an admission of failure from the game’s leadership because it would mean these men going first.
It won’t happen.
Prepare for more on-field hardship and more Bok humiliation, starting with England at Twickenham next month.
*Keohane is editor of SA Rugby magazine. Read him on www.twitter.com/mark_keohane
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images