Springboks

2017: Another false dawn for SA rugby

2017-12-24 08:30
Allister Coetzee (Gallo)

Johannesburg - What began as a hopeful year for South African rugby ended in yet another depressingly familiar false dawn.

Not for the first time, hope had sprung eternal that the Lions would go one up on making the Super Rugby final last season by winning the title this year; the Blitzboks would carry their strong early season form and win the World Sevens Series; and the Springboks would improve from losing eight of their 12 games last year.

Neil Powell’s men held up their end of the bargain by making eight out of a possible 10 finals to win their second World Sevens Series championship, but the rest flunked.

Weaker sides

In a year in which Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, complete with reinforced backroom staffers in the form of Brendan Venter and Franco Smith, felt he’d had enough time to prepare and fix the team’s culture, the Boks merely flattered to deceive.

The start was promising enough, with a 3-0 win over the French and two back-to-back wins over Argentina, giving the impression that the problems of last year had been ironed out.

The catch was that the two teams were two of the weaker sides to emerge from those countries.

This explained why the wins dried up the moment the Springboks came up against Australia and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship, with two draws against the former and two very different defeats against the latter (by 57-0 and one point).

Given that the Wallabies gave the All Blacks the hurry up and eventually beat them in the final game of the Bledisloe Cup, the Boks’ draws against them meant they clearly didn’t have a killer instinct.

But the horrendous 57-0 loss to New Zealand in Albany and the biggest defeat by Ireland (38-3) in November meant that, after racking up more unwanted records, like losing to Italy last year, Coetzee will again finish the year hoping to hold on to his job.

With his record now standing at 11 wins after 25 games, or a 44% win ratio, it would be a miracle if he retains his job after his review on January 16.

Every agent

Coetzee may have made strides with the Boks and may not be the only one to blame for the state of SA Rugby, but when the going got tough, he went back into his half-pregnant approach of coaching, which was looking for compromise when there were big decisions to be made.

Basic examples include spurning the opportunity to make Siya Kolisi captain when regular leader Warren Whiteley was injured and making conservative selections throughout the year.

Couple that with SA Rugby controversially losing out on its bid to host the 2023 World Cup to France – when World Rugby’s general council voted against its own independent evaluation of the bids, which favoured South Africa – and it hasn’t been such a great year.

There was a welcome injection of new sponsors, led by MTN and FNB, but not to the extent that every agent of every entitled player who thought he should play for the Boks didn’t ship him off to Europe in a huff when they didn’t get selected.

The Lions had unwittingly set the tone by not winning the Super Rugby title despite reaching the final for a second year in succession.

Despite fixing the one flaw in their 2016 Super Rugby campaign – not securing a home final – the Lions still fell short to a New Zealand team, this time the Crusaders, who won the trophy for the eighth time.

It’s tempting to blame Blitzboks player and flanker Kwagga Smith’s first-half sending off for the result, but the Lions hadn’t looked the part in the knockout stages, giving head starts to both the Sharks and the Hurricanes before reeling them in.

Provide answers

Looking ahead to next year, the Lions’ window to win Super Rugby may well have passed them by, what with the Ackermanns, coach Johan and flanker Ruan, having gone off to pick new fights (literally and figuratively) with Gloucester in the English Premiership and other squad members such as Faf de Klerk having chosen to further their careers elsewhere.

Also, the challenge from the Bulls, the Sharks and the Stormers – the other remaining South African teams in the competition – should be firmer than it was this year. Speaking of which, Sanzaar’s decision to drop the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs, as well as Australia’s Western Force, from Super Rugby to stop it from ballooning to the Super 50 in the near future, is working out for the local sides.

The early impressions of the Pro 14, the European competition in which they have been accommodated, are that it is vibrant and may well provide SA Rugby with answers on whether to put their lot in with European competitions, as opposed to Sanzaar, where they’ve always been treated like stepchildren.

Read more on:    sanzaar  |  allister coetzee  |  johannesburg  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Saturday, 29 September 2018
South Africa v Australia, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 17:05
Saturday, 06 October 2018
South Africa v New Zealand, Loftus Versfeld 17:05
Saturday, 03 November 2018
England v South Africa, Twickenham Stadium 17:00
Saturday, 10 November 2018
France v South Africa, Stade de France 18:00
France v South Africa, Stade de France 22:05
Saturday, 17 November 2018
Scotland v South Africa, BT Murrayfield Stadium 17:00
Scotland v South Africa, BT Murrayfield Stadium 19:20
Saturday, 24 November 2018
Wales v South Africa, Principality Stadium 17:00
Wales v South Africa, Principality Stadium 19:20
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Following the win over the All Blacks in Wellington, Springbok supporters will be counting down the days until the return fixture at Loftus on October 6. How do you see that match ending?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.