Lloyd Burnard

Coetzee is insulting the SA rugby public

2017-12-04 10:11
Lloyd Burnard

Cape Town - When Allister Coetzee tells us that everything is okay and that the Springboks are on the right track, he is insulting the South African rugby public. 

Following Saturday's 24-22 loss to Wales in Cardiff, Coetzee was full of optimism after what he considered a successful 2017. 

It was a year in which the Boks won 7 from 13 and beat only Italy, Argentina (twice) and a very poor France (four times). 

Yet, when addressing media after another loss on Saturday, the Bok coach used words like "proud", "character", "energy", "effort", "improvement" and "progress" while he referred to a "healthy team environment". 

Coetzee said that making individual errors was where the Boks were going wrong, and he said that they had been surprised that Wales had kicked to them as much as they did. 

The Boks, once more, were poor in their aerial contesting. It should not, however, have come as a result of being unprepared. 

This is an area where the Boks have been struggling all year, so why was Coetzee surprised that an opposition side with a world-renowned coach might look to exploit that weakness? 

Ireland had destroyed the Boks in the air just three weeks before, confirming the theory that the Boks are fragile there. 

Yet, because Wales looked to be expansive against the All Blacks, Coetzee presumed that they would employ the same approach against the Boks. 

Two years into the Coetzee era, the Boks still look toothless for the most part. There have been fleeting moments of encouragement, but not enough has happened over the past 25 Test matches to suggest that this South African side can be a force in 2019. 

If there was a clear plan, then the results would be more tolerable. If the Boks were moving in a clear direction and striving towards mastering a certain style, then we may have more patience with Coetzee as his Boks stumble their way from week to week. 

But there seems to be no such plan. 

'Transparency' would go a long way here. 

Instead of trying to convince everyone that everything is hunky-dory and on track, why not rather accept the criticism for what it is and admit that the Boks are a long way away from where they need to be? 

"We were really poor today. That is not the type of performance that we should associate with the Springboks and we will have to be a lot better if we want to get anywhere as a team." That is an assessment of Saturday's match that people might take seriously. 

But when you try and pull the wool over, it insults an intelligent South African rugby public that expects so much more. 

Instead of playing 'PR officer', rather admit that things are not what they should be. Admit that results and performances have not been good enough and then be transparent in giving us the plan of exactly what is going to change moving forward. 

Don't tell us that everything is fine. It is not. 

Change, it seems, is imminent. 

SA Rugby is set to meet on December 13 to discuss Coetzee's future, and he will almost certainly lose his job.

We know about the struggles that Coetzee has faced. We know the political pressures, we know the challenges that come with the player drain and we know that he inherited a Bok side that had an identity crisis following the 2015 World Cup. 

South African rugby, over the last two years, has been in a very dark place ... perhaps more so than ever before. 

In plotting the way forward, acknowledging exactly that must surely be the start. 

Instead, we are told that the Bok class of 2017 is a brand new side that is still gelling. Just three players who started Saturday's Test started against Wales in Cardiff a year before. 

So, yes, Coetzee is right. This is a brand new side. But, two years in, whose fault is that?

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

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    springboks  |  lloyd burnard  |  rugby


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