Cape Town - Long-serving Stormers and Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has chosen not to extend his contract at Western Province Rugby and will, instead, take up an opportunity abroad at the end of this year.
Coetzee, 51, will join Japanese club, Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers, having decided to put pen to paper this week.
“I have always said that I would make an announcement once I had made a decision about my future and my decision has now been made and communicated properly,” said Coetzee on the official Stormers website.
“I’ve had eight fantastic years at Western Province Rugby and would like to thank my fellow coaches, players, the leadership of WP Rugby and, of course, the supporters here in Cape Town and across the country. My family and I have always been made to feel very welcome in Cape Town, but we have now been presented with a great opportunity and some exciting times await us in a very new and different environment.
“I will miss the Stormers and some great people that I have come into contact with here, but we still have a very long and challenging Super Rugby campaign ahead of us and that is my only focus at present as it has been during our pre-season build-up.”
WPRFU President Thelo Wakefield confirmed Coetzee’s departure, saying: “Allister must be congratulated on what he has achieved during his time in charge of both the Stormers and Western Province, he has been an asset to Western Province Rugby and he will be missed.
“I wish him and his family well, but we will say goodbye properly when the time comes. Allister still has a few big months ahead of him and I know that he will be doing his utmost to leave Cape Town on a high and add to his already impressive record as head coach of the Stormers.”
Under the guidance of Coetzee, who has been head coach of WP since 2008 and the Stormers since 2010, the Stormers have become one of the most consistent Super Rugby teams on the circuit.
After losing an epic Super Rugby final to the Bulls in Soweto in 2010, Coetzee then coached the Stormers to successive South African Conference titles in 2011 and 2012, the latter tournament seeing the team also top the overall log - to date, the only South African team to achieve that feat.
At Currie Cup level, meanwhile, Western Province have won two titles under Coetzee’s leadership - in 2012 and 2014 - having, in total, contested four finals in the past five seasons, with two of those finals being at home and in succession.
WP Director of Rugby Gert Smal added: “We tried our best to keep Allister. Not only is he a fantastic coach but we have a great relationship - on and off the field.
“I am very sad to be losing him, but I can understand that he is seeking a new challenge - something which is close to my heart as I believe in empowering and constantly challenging coaches.”
Coetzee’s final release date has not been confirmed as yet (he will at least see out the 2015 Super Rugby season), but Smal has also announced that there will be a change in the management group of the Western Province Currie Cup team.
Senior forwards coach Matt Proudfoot and senior backline coach Robbie Fleck, Coetzee’s long-time assistant coaches, will continue in their respective roles with the Stormers at Super Rugby level but Smal will be utilising them elsewhere during the 2015 Currie Cup season.
Proudfoot will head up a brand new project at WP Rugby, the self-explained ‘Tight Five Factory’, whilst Fleck will become the Western Province Under-21 head coach in the second half of the season - all aimed at player development and, importantly, keeping the senior professional coaches fresh and allowing them to develop their own skills too in a different coaching environment.
John Dobson (head coach) and Dawie Snyman (assistant coach - backline) will, in turn, be promoted to Currie Cup level after five successful seasons in charge of both the WP Under-21 and Vodacom Cup sides, all of which falls in line with Smal’s vision to empower all the professional coaches at the union.
Smal explained: “John Dobson and Dawie Snyman have both impressed me with their vision and, of course, their records speak for themselves - having won three trophies in five seasons and produced countless players who have moved into our Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams (and beyond).
“It was always my intention to give John and Dawie an opportunity at a higher level this season and I am positive that they will reward my faith in them and continue their progression as talented coaches. At the same time, Matt and Fleckie can spread their specialised knowledge from the bottom up - and thereby get a first-hand experience of our young talent within the union - and also develop their coaching in a new environment.
“Over the last few months we have now integrated the likes of Paul Treu, Hanyani Shimange and Rito Hlungwani into our coaching set-ups, plus we are able to use Allister Coetzee, Robbie Fleck and Matt Proudfoot in new, wider roles in the latter half of the season and, of course, (we are) set to give the likes of John and Dawie a deserved opportunity at a higher level.
“It’s an exciting time for all of our coaches, who will continue to be stimulated throughout the year, but with all of this news (and movement) now confirmed we can move into the 2015 Super Rugby season without any off-field distractions and concentrate on the job at hand.”
The Stormers will open their 2015 Super Rugby campaign against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, February 14 (kick-off 19:10). Their first home game - against the Blues at Newlands - will take place the following Saturday, February 21, at 17:05.