It’s March 1, but it could be April 1 when it comes to Allister Coetzee’s press statements about a second season as Springbok coach.
Coetzee said he was excited about the Springbok year. Cue most Bok supporters and they’ll tell you they’re terrified that he's excited.
Coetzee said the four wins in 12 Tests in 2016 was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘that there were no excuses’.
Then he made excuses; lots of them.
He thanked the review committee for their support when there was no support other than the sorry state of the financials.
Coetzee still hasn’t fronted. In fact, no one has. That’s the most disturbing aspect of this farce.
The coach and those who appointed him still haven't given the rugby public some measure of hope by an admission of guilt.
The manner in which the SARU endorsement has been handled has been as convincing as the Springboks’ 2016 season.
The obvious weak leadership continues to thrive in silence and in an environment that avoids accountability as much as they do the right of the public to ask questions.
SARU’s leadership and Coetzee have taken the approach of a kid who stuffs up and wants to wish it away by going to sleep.
Coetzee’s Bok coaching endorsement is simply delaying the inevitable. He wasn’t good enough in 2016 and he won’t be good enough in 2017. He is a poor selector and international coaches who have triumphed have all been primarily good selectors.
Coetzee blamed everything but his own selections and coaching on the eight Test defeats in 2016. Springbok rugby needed an operation post the disaster of the end of year tour and instead an Elastoplast has been applied.
The situation isn’t good and don’t be fooled into thinking it is.
Brendan Venter is being viewed as the coaching support staff miracle worker. Venter will improve the Springboks but he will not transform the Springboks fortunes in the capacity of Defensive coach or specialist technical advisor.
Venter, as head coach, would be a different story.
SARU’s leadership and whoever makes up the review and preview and whatever other view there is have typically applied the Elastoplast mentality because to admit a wrong diagnosis first up is to admit their own respective failings and limitations.
SARU President Mark Alexander and CEO Jurie Roux owed the rugby public some frank, if unpopular answers. Instead the public was fed the ridiculous line of a coach who was excited and who accepts winning four in 12 Tests is unacceptable.
But the public got no answer to the following questions because the confirmation of Coetzee’s stay of execution was delivered 27 days late via a press statement.
The entire announcement, like the Springboks of 2016, lacked soul and substance.
The rugby public and investors in the Springbok and South Africa Rugby were owed the following: An admission that:
1. The coach’s winning percentage was not good enough in 2016.
2. His transformation player percentage was not good enough.
3. His excuses were not good enough.
And the consequence if the ills of 2016 are repeated.
However, there was no consequence talk because those within SARU who rushed his appointment to support a political agenda were not strong enough to challenge this government interference or astute enough to ensure the risk of the appointment was counterbalanced with the safety net of a performance clause.
Coetzee has not been endorsed on his ability as a rugby coach and no one within the SARU hierarchy has been bold, brave or honest enough to stand up and identify to the public where it went wrong, what has to change and what the coach’s Key Performance Indicators will be in 2017.
Alternatively, that there are none and everyone from those within SARU who appointed Coetzee to the paying public who ridiculed him, must accept his is a contract sealed with cement.
We still haven’t heard an official position on Coetzee’s performance measurement for 2017 or if performance is only measured at the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup.
We still don’t know what the consequence is for continued failure to meet transformation targets in player numbers.
We still don’t know the position on the overseas-based player versus the local-based player selections.
We know nothing, other than the coach is excited to be coaching the Springboks and SARU’s leadership is excited to be getting their preferred defensive coach in Venter, who will be the fourth Bok defensive coach in a year.
Coetzee was a disaster in 2016. He will be nothing less in 2017 because of the simple reason that he refuses to acknowledge that he got so much wrong in 2016.
He won’t acknowledge it because he believes he didn’t get much wrong in 2016.
And that’s why this column would be more appropriate if it appeared on April 1 and not March 1.
Mark Keohane is a Cape-Town based award-winning rugby specialist and former Springbok Communications Manager. Follow him on Twitter
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