By Nick Said
CAPETOWN (Reuters) – Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is likely to be given the axe by South African Rugby in the New Year but the blame for the poor performances of the side in the last two years do not lie squarely on his shoulders, according to former World Cup winner Joel Stransky.
The Boks have been victorious in just 11 of their 25 tests under Coetzee, a win ratio of 44 percent that is well below the 65 percent the country has maintained in their 126-year history of playing international rugby.
The team also set a number of unwanted records, including a humiliating 57-0 loss to New Zealand and a first ever defeat to struggling Italy.
Local media have reported that Coetzee is a ‘Dead Man Walking’ and his exit now a matter of process, with newly appointed director of rugby Rassie Erasmus set to head an interim coaching team.
“I don’t think Allister has blazed himself in glory and results have been poor,” Stransky told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“But I also don’t think we can look at Allister in isolation. There are too many provincial unions with South African Rugby and the local coaching structures are poor. The system has failed Allister and while we probably do need to make a change in terms of the current coaching team, we also need to put in place long-term measures too.
“We have too many professional players and the money is spread too thin. We should be able to pay better salaries to keep our best players in South Africa. Everybody is pointing a finger at poor Allister, but for me the system is more at fault.”
Robbie Kempson, who won 37 caps for the Boks at prop and is now a TV pundit, agrees a change is necessary and adds the team would benefit from a coach from outside of the South African game.
“There is not a shadow of doubt they (SA Rugby) should be looking at other options,” Kempson told Reuters. “It’s unfortunate for Allister, but it’s time for him to move on.
“I think they should go for someone from outside, (New Zealanders) Robbie Deans and John Mitchell are two that come to mind. Why wouldn’t they go for people who have proven expertise of putting teams into position where they can win test matches?
“But I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime, the South African way of thinking is that they wouldn’t look outside of their square box.”
The 54-year-old Coetzee has vowed to battle on to the 2019 World Cup in Japan and South African Rugby have refused to be drawn into discussions about his future.
“SA Rugby will not be in a position to respond to questions regarding that speculation on the coaching of the national team until the New Year,” they said in a statement last week.
“A number of meetings and reviews are in progress on all national teams after which plans for all teams in 2018 will be confirmed.”
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)