(Reuters) - South Africa coach Allister Coetzee said he would not resign as speculation over his future at the helm of the Springboks was ramped up in the wake of their defeat by Wales on Saturday. Pundits have been speculating for weeks that Coetzee would be removed after the team's four-match European tour, and the 24-22 loss to Wales in Cardiff set off a new round of criticism in South African media on Sunday.
The coach, however, said he had no plans to go and feels his side are now on the up. “I’m signed on until 2019. That’s what my contract says,” he told reporters after South Africa finished the year with seven wins in 13 tests. Coetzee’s overall record fell to 11 wins in 25 games since his first match in charge in mid-2016. “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. Last year was a fiasco. Definitely a fiasco,” he added. In the wake of a dreadful set of results in 2016, which were the worst in Springbok history, Coetzee was allowed to make changes to the team set-up.
He made changes to his staff and was given more access to the players throughout the Super Rugby season. He was also allowed to set a common coaching agenda for the country's rugby teams this year. NEW LOW Yet any signs of progress were clouded by a 57-0 loss to New Zealand that set a new low for Springbok rugby and put Coetzee’s future back in the spotlight. This was then exacerbated by a heavy defeat in Ireland last month. The coach, however, said critics were not seeing the bigger picture. “If you look at outcomes only, then you are missing the plot completely. You have to create the opportunities for guys to come in. You’ve got to give players chances to grow. You cannot build Rome in a day. “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.” Some media were predicting Coetzee could be sacked as early as the end of the week with Rassie Erasmus set to take over.
He was appointed to the new role of Director of Rugby, effectively overseeing Coetzee’s work, and has just returned to South Africa from coaching Munster in Ireland.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)