Cape Town - SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has thrown a spanner in the works by denying that Springbok coach Allister Coetzee staying is a foregone conclusion.
Since the Boks returned from their abysmal tour of Europe, where they lost all three of their Test matches, including a first defeat to Italy, speculation has been rife that SA Rugby had all but decided to persist with Coetzee as they do not have the rumoured R13 million they would need to sack him.
But Alexander said a few days ago the organisation was looking at its options, one of which included continuing without Coetzee.
“We’re not sure which way we’re going, whether we’re keeping Allister or not,” said Alexander.
“We still have presentations to go through but no formal decision has been made on whether we’re going forward with him or not.
“At the end of January we’ll make an announcement on whether we’re keeping him.”
If that sounded a little too much like Alexander pacifying a rugby public which would rather see the back of Coetzee before doing an about-turn come the end of the month, he surprised by warming to his “uncertain” task.
“We’re still looking to see if we’ve got the right people in place and, if not, where we can find them,” he said.
“We’re not sure what type of coach we want and what style we want to play. You have to remember that it’s not just one man – it’s a whole coaching team.
“There are no quick fixes, we’ve got some seriously big decisions to make.
"It’s easy to stay with Allister, [but] we need to make the right decision because whatever we do will impact our  World Cup campaign, which we want to win.”
Alexander also revealed that, almost as if smelling blood in the water, coaches the world over had availed themselves of Coetzee’s job:
“A lot of names have come up, a lot of overseas coaches have thrown their hats in the ring and they’ve even got plans [about how to turn the Boks’ fortunes around].
“The agents have been busy...”
Alexander implied he and his top brass had been kept awake by trying to solve a lot of their organisation’s problems, which included their policy
on overseas-based players and their decision to increase the stake in provincial unions reserved for private investors.
“I didn’t go away for the December holidays and we’ve had five meetings this year already,” Alexander said.
“We’re taking a holistic approach and we are going to announce our policy on foreign-based players at the end of January as well, whether they bring value or not.
With regards to increasing the private stakeholding in provincial unions to up to 74%, he said SA Rugby had “attracted a lot of interest both locally and abroad.
“We’ve asked them to hold off until we’ve put the model in place but the guys want to talk now.”
He said SA Rugby had dedicated the last few weeks to a fair bit of soul-searching: “We’ve consulted widely to experts in the business of rugby both locally and abroad.
We’re questioning all the decisions we’ve made because sometimes we’re too close to the woods to see the trees.
“We need to get our strategy right and then put structures in place. We need to make rugby grow as a game and to play winning rugby.”