Lloyd Burnard

Coetzee should consider walking before he's pushed

2016-11-28 09:31
Lloyd Burnard

Cape Town - Another week, another Springbok loss and another hard-to-watch Allister Coetzee post-match interview. 

This one was particularly "tough" - a word that we have heard countless times from the South African national coach on this northern hemisphere sojourn. 

The Boks return home 0 from 3 for the tour, and 4 from 12 for 2016. 

Coetzee finishes his first year as Bok coach with a win percentage of 33.3%.

During Saturday's clash in Cardiff, just South Africa's third loss to Wales in 32 Test matches, Coetzee looked defeated every time the cameras cut to him in the coaches box. 

And, if he looked down during the match, he looked distraught afterwards. 

Perhaps he knows that his time his up, but Coetzee staggered his way through that interview looking like a man who had just gone 12 rounds with Mohammad Ali. 

He is out on his feet, and all that remains is for someone to topple him over. 

Coetzee used the interview to highlight the fact that he was not solely to blame for this woeful Bok year, while he also pointed to South Africa's loss to Japan at last year's Rugby World Cup. 

Those watching at home were having none of it. This is not a time for excuses. 

Perhaps the most shocking statement from the interview was when Coetzee offered this: "Hopefully this is a new dawn for South African rugby."


A new dawn is exactly what the Boks need, but a new dawn implies a fresh start and that can only be achieved without Coetzee at the helm. 

The coach did acknowledge that the sack was a very real possibility, but his overall demeanor suggests that he still believes that he is the right man for the job moving forward. 

There are few who agree with him. 

SA Rugby's emergency statement following Saturday's result confirmed that a General Council Meeting on December 9 could "have a significant bearing on the future of South African rugby". 

Coetzee's future, it seems, will be decided at that meeting. 

It is impossible not to feel sympathy for Toetie. This has been a dream of his for so long and it had the potential to be a fantastic South African story. 

But, watching him face that interviewer on Saturday was a reminder of just how far the Boks have fallen under his leadership.

Not only has Coetzee not met Springbok standards, but he has been so poor that he has altered them. 

It reminds of an event that transpired in the very different world of PSL football earlier this month. 

On November 1, Soweto giants Orlando Pirates were smashed 6-1 by SuperSport United in a league clash at Mbombela Stadium. 

All six of SuperSport's goals came in the second half.

It was an absolute disaster for a club of Pirates' stature as fans looked on in disbelief. How had a club that once ruled Africa sunk this low?

Muhsin Ertugral, one of the most respected coaches in South African domestic football history, was in charge of the Buccaneers at the time.

His post-match interview after the final whistle that night would be his last. Ertugral resigned, immediately, on live television (WATCH THAT INTERVIEW HERE). 

The official resignation came in the early hours of the following morning via an e-mail, after the coach had toiled to find the rights words for his boss. 

"After the disastrous performance from us against SuperSport yesterday evening I believe that the team needs new impulse to stabilise the performances ... therefore (it is) my suggestion to be released from my duties. It is shameful for a club of this magnitude to lose without pride and dignity," Ertugral wrote to Pirates chairperson Irvin Khoza. 

One shocking result was all it took. 

A 6-1 loss to any club at any time will never be acceptable for a club as big as Pirates. The fans expect so much more and the internal standards demand better.

Ertugral understood this. He also understood that, when the team fails, it is completely his responsibility. 

Does Coetzee share Ertugral's sentiments? 

The Boks, like Pirates, are an institution. 

There are certain things that will simply never be tolerated. 

A loss to Italy or Japan, a year in which the Boks win four of 12 matches, shipping 50 points and 9 tries against the All Blacks ... all of these failures need to be accounted for. 

Khoza was furious that Ertugral had, effectively, resigned on national television before talking to the club's board. He had a point. 

It would have been far more professional to have had that discussion behind closed doors. 

But Ertugral knew that it was over. There are standards, and once you slip that far below those standards, you have to take responsibility.

Nobody expected Coetzee to resign on national television like Ertugral did, but how he approaches that December 9 meeting now becomes incredibly pertinent.

He will be in a position where he can either look to defend himself, or accept that he has failed dismally.  

Holding his hands up and acknowledging failure may be a better option than waiting for somebody else to decide that for him. 

It's hard to see Coetzee surviving now, and if he does then SARU must prepare for a public backlash of gargantuan proportions. 

The end, surely, is nigh ...

Lloyd Burnard is a journalist at Sport24 and the former Sports Editor of The Witness newspaper ...

Read more on:    springboks  |  allister coetzee  |  rugby

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