The writing could be on the wall for Springbok coach Allister Coetzee. But, although it may be the easy route to simply fire him on the spot, some former Bok players believe the problems of SA rugby run deep and the sport needs a complete overhaul.
The Boks were expected to drop to sixth place in the latest world rankings, due to be released today, after going down for a record eighth loss of the season, against Wales in Cardiff at the weekend.
SEE THE FULL MATCH REPORT: Boks cap miserable year with Wales loss
Former Bok centre Dick Muir said the “suits” in South African rugby should get to the root of the crisis in order to stop the rot.
“It is certain that there are problems, but I don’t think it’s solely Allister who deserves the blame,” said Muir, who also coached the Sharks and Lions in the Super Rugby competition.
“It appears there’s no cohesion between the coaching staff, so changes definitely need to be made.”
Former Bok lock Krynauw Otto said Coetzee probably didn’t deserve to stay on as coach if one looked at the poor results. “But they will have to look at the bigger picture, all the way up to the administrators of the game,” said Otto.
Former Bok coach Nick Mallett yesterday said he felt “dreadfully sorry” for Coetzee, “because he is a decent guy, but better Springboks coaches than him have been fired”.
Jake White was told to reapply for his job after coaching South Africa to the 2007 Rugby World Cup title. He refused and was replaced by Peter de Villiers.
“Test rugby is not a popularity contest. Coaches have to win matches, and they do make a difference to teams,” said Mallett. “Look at England under Stuart Lancaster and Eddie Jones.
Stuart was a decent coach, but his team were eliminated after the first round of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
“Eddie comes in, chooses a new captain, makes a few changes in personnel and tactics, and now they are on a long unbeaten run.
“Allister keeps telling us how well training went and how excited he is before a Test, but the Springboks keep losing.”
Recently elected president of the SA Rugby Union (Saru), Mark Alexander, outlined plans for an overhaul of the body’s administration as well as a Springbok review process, but also said they would resist “knee-jerk” decisions.
The Saru general council would meet on December 9, while another national coaching indaba was scheduled for December 12.
“I can assure our supporters and stakeholders that if tough decisions have to be made, we will not shy away from making them,” Alexander said.
“It has been a profoundly disappointing season in terms of results and we are acutely aware that we have failed to live up to the Springboks’ proud heritage.”
The Boks were due to arrive back in the country this morning.