Cape Town – Beleaguered coach Allister Coetzee will require a 100 percent record on the Springbok end-of-year tour if he is to look reasonably competitive against predecessor Heyneke Meyer at the completion of his first season in charge.
Should Coetzee manage to mastermind victories - many would consider that unlikely, given depressing events at Kings Park on Saturday - over each of England, Italy and Wales away in November, he would at least be able to boast seven wins out of 12 Tests in the calendar year.
That is exactly what Meyer managed in his maiden campaign in 2012, aided by the gradual progress evidenced on the annual European pilgrimage when his side clean-swept the roster: they beat Ireland 16-12, Scotland 21-10 and England 16-15.
But even if the incumbent does manage a much-needed “full house” next month, he would statistically trail Meyer as the former coach also bagged two draws during 2012 - against England (14-14) in a dead-rubber Test at Port Elizabeth after they’d already wrapped up the series, and Argentina in Mendoza during the inaugural Castle Rugby Championship (16-16).
Meyer lost just three Tests of his first dozen: both clashes with New Zealand (though they were considerably closer than this year’s two thrashings) and the away fixture against Australia in Perth.
Under Coetzee’s tutelage, South Africa have already surrendered five matches of nine.
Meyer was much-maligned for a cruel perception, during much of his four-year tenure, that he advocated largely stampkar rugby, but his teams - often marked by dominating, physical packs - also increasingly developed a penchant for some sparklingly-manufactured tries until he retreated into his shell towards the tail-end of his era last year.
Already, if you compare the first nine matches in charge for both coaches (featuring one bilateral three-Test series during the June window and a full Rugby Championship), he has an edge in the “tries for” column of 19 to Coetzee’s 15.
But it is in concession of tries where the current coaching regime is really being exposed right now - Coetzee’s teams have leaked 27 already, as opposed to Meyer’s 15.
Nor can you say that Meyer enjoyed an easier June series than Coetzee did in his very earliest baptism: the England side that the Boks beat 2-0 with one stalemate had been runners-up in the 2012 Six Nations, whereas the Ireland outfit pipped 2-1 not too long ago were third in the 2016 version and also arrived considerably short of key players.
Here are reminders of the first nine Tests for both Coetzee and Meyer:
Coetzee 2016 (W4 L5):
Lost to Ireland 26-20, Cape Town
Beat Ireland 32-26, Johannesburg
Beat Ireland 19-13, Port Elizabeth
Beat Argentina 30-23, Nelspruit
Lost to Argentina 26-24, Salta
Lost to Australia 23-17, Brisbane
Lost to New Zealand 41-13, Christchurch
Beat Australia 18-13, Pretoria
Lost to New Zealand 57-15, Durban
Meyer 2012 (W4 D2 L3):
Beat England 22-17, Durban
Beat England 36-27, Johannesburg
Drew 14-14 with England, Port Elizabeth
Beat Argentina 27-6, Cape Town
Drew 16-16 with Argentina, Mendoza
Lost to Australia 26-19, Perth
Lost to New Zealand 21-11, Dunedin
Beat Australia 31-8, Pretoria
Lost to New Zealand 32-16, Soweto
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