Allister Coetzee’s departure as Springbok coach means the national team now will have new team management just two years before the World Cup in Japan.
According to several reports, the 54-year-old walked away with a severance package of R1.8 million following negotiations with the South African Rugby Union (Saru).
Ironically, insiders believe Coetzee would’ve walked away with more had his explosive letter to the governing body citing his grievances not been leaked into the public domain.
But the drama surrounding him is now over.
It’s now a matter of what on earth lies ahead for the embattled Springboks.
Who’ll be coach now?
Given the cash crunch at Saru – they apparently budgeted only on a year-by-year basis for Coetzee’s salary because they couldn’t afford a lump sum payout – it really does seem unlikely that a new head coach will be brought in.
Also, if that does happen, it will surely only be a ceremonial figure because of the presence of a certain Rassie Erasmus.
That figure will also have to come cheap, someone like Deon Davids, who’s employed by Saru.
But who’ll coach the Kings then?
So, to be blunt, it’s going to be director of rugby Erasmus who’ll do an “ambulance job”.
Who’ll be the assistant coaches?
Erasmus’ lieutenants in his national rugby department will probably form the basis of his support staff.
Defence guru Jacques Nienaber has come back from Munster with him, scrum expert Pieter de Villiers is expected to coach the forwards, Erasmus is keen to keep attack coach Franco Smith unless he wants to stay in Bloemfontein and Mzwandile Stick is likely to be groomed for bigger things.
Irishman Aled Walters has been appointed as the new conditioning guru.
Such a setup would makes sense because these men also work closely with the Super Rugby franchises throughout the year and would thus be familiar with the players.
Brendan Venter was only a consultant on defence but the role of current forwards coach Matt Proudfoot is unclear.
When will the coaching setup be finalised?
Saru said in the statement they want this to happen before the end of this month.
What Erasmus has to say about various relevant issues
On whether he actually wants to be the hands-on Bok head coach:
I think all of us want things with the coaching roles and responsibilities to be in place as soon as possible, but I don’t see it as a massive problem. There has been planning going on behind the scenes, and of course we want to get that clarity, but there is a process that has to run its course. However, it’s not hindering us in the background and it isn’t affecting my role as director of rugby, which is to ensure that we are as well prepared as possible to be able to beat England in that first Test series.
On the Boks’ game-plan:
It’s always easy to say we’ve got a blueprint, and that’s nice to have at a fundamental and skills level, but it’s not so easy on a tactical level. You can never have every franchise playing tactically like you want to play, but we need to work closely with them so that we understand what they’re trying to do, and that’s the gap we’re trying to bridge.
On whether there’s enough time to make the Boks a force at the World Cup:
Definitely! We’ve got 18 Test matches before the next World Cup, and around 600 days, so we have to utilise each of those days. We have to get to know the players and the coaches, understand what’s going on, and to integrate ourselves into their systems.
On the complexities of Saru’s rules on overseas-based players:
I think we can deal with the 30-cap rule, and then I think common sense must prevail. We can’t cut our nose to spite our face. There are probably about 10 overseas-based players who can play for the Springboks. I think sometimes we tend to make this big thing about losing players, but on the other hand, some people say we have too many professional players. I just think we have to make sure that the best talent here will play, but if there is a player outside of that with more than 30 caps, who is fit, still wants to play and is conditioned suitably with the timing of the seasons, then we will certainly consider those players within the parameters that have been set. I’m definitely not going to overlook those players.