A week on from claiming there was “nothing exceptional anymore” about the All Blacks, former Springbok centre and national assistant coach, Brendan Venter, has again ruffled feathers.
In his weekly column for New Zealand’s Stuff, he points out that Bok coach Rassie Erasmus was statistically inferior to predecessor Allister Coetzee in 2018.
First and foremost, Venter, who served as South Africa’s defence coach last year, highlights that Erasmus had a win record of seven victories and seven losses from his first season in charge.
In contrast, Coetzee won seven and lost four in 2017.
“Did the Springboks improve on last year’s performance or did the win over the All Blacks in Wellington engender false hope? Moreover, were transformation targets achieved,” Venter wrote.
“To find the answers we have to look at stats, which are factual and non-emotional. Erasmus lost seven matches this year and last year Coetzee only lost four.”
What Venter doesn’t mention, however, is that the Springboks also drew twice with the Aussies in 2017 – which could’ve either saved Coetzee his job or have made his dismissal more justifiable depending on who won those games.
There is also no reference made to the record defeats suffered against the All Blacks (57-0) and Ireland (38-3) last year, an argument made by former Bok head coach and pundit Nick Mallett last weekend in support of the team’s improvement under Erasmus.
Venter does rightly point out some awkward numbers on the transformation front.
“Erasmus guaranteed a 45 per cent transformation rate when he set off but only achieved 38 per cent, which is worse than Coetzee who posted 40 per cent,” he wrote.
“From a purely numbers point of view, it’s undeniable that South Africa failed to make progress under Erasmus this season. As a matter of fact, they were worse off this year.”
Interestingly though, Venter uses these statistics to argue for Erasmus to be backed as mentor going into next year’s World Cup.
“I’m not suggesting that Erasmus should go. I’m of the view that it’s even more reason to support Erasmus because if you look at the way Coetzee grew in his second year, Erasmus should grow in exactly the same way,” wrote Venter.
“If the administrators don’t miss a trick then it will give us a return on patience after four years, which we are hoping for in South Africa rugby. Whatever we do, Erasmus must stay on for at least three years and actively manage South Africa to allow for an upward trajectory.”