South Africa’s beleaguered head coach Allister Coetzee will be in the firing line on Wednesday when he presents his annual report to his bosses at SA Rugby.
This year was a slight improvement for the Boks following a terrible 2016, when they only managed four victories in 12 Tests. The Boks won seven Tests in 2017, but Coetzee still only has a 44% win ratio, following two draws and four defeats.
KweséESPN weighs up the reasons why the Springbok coach should be fired versus why he should stay on until the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
WHY HE SHOULD BE FIRED
Woeful record over the last two years
There have been a lot of unwanted ‘firsts’ and record defeats for the Springboks under Coetzee. The Boks suffered a first home defeat against Ireland at Newlands last year, and then followed that up with a first away defeat against Argentina. Italy almost cost Coetzee his job last year already, while there have also been record defeats against the All Blacks and Ireland during Coetzee’s tenure.
Issues with selections
Coetzee has backed many out-of-form players over the past two years, probably hoping that his faith and investment will be rewarded. But, for the most part, that faith hasn’t paid dividends, and the coach has been left red-faced on quite a number of occasions. He also hasn’t shown a lot of trust in the backup players, with the incumbents playing themselves into the ground. So, with less than two years to go to the World Cup, Coetzee doesn’t have a squad strong enough to make the semi-finals.
Shaky transformation record
It hasn’t helped that Coetzee’s selection blunders basically favoured out-of-form white players for in-form black African players such as Warrick Gelant and Lukhanyo Am. Coetzee also didn’t give his two black hookers on the bench enough game time to build some sort of capacity in a position where the Boks seem to be a bit light on quality. The Boks have been set a target of 50% black representation by 2019, but their coach hasn’t brought many black players through.
WHY HE SHOULD STAY
Coetzee is less than halfway to the World Cup
There may not be enough time to do another rebuilding job with rugby’s showpiece tournament less than two years away. And, surely, the Boks can’t become any worse than they are. A new coach with a new philosophy doesn’t always work, while blooding new players with a new coaching staff next year could be a bit of a disaster.
There will be some sort of continuity
Coetzee isn’t a bad coach, he has proved that in Super Rugby, while there are many other factors that have also contributed to the decline of the Boks over the last few years. Coetzee must by now be aware of the challenges facing the team, and hopefully he would have learned from the mistakes he has made over the last two years.
The players are still backing the coach
Coetzee still has control of the Boks’ dressing room, which is an important factor in his defence. Siya Kolisi and stand-in captain Eben Etzebeth came out to bat for their coach after their dismal recent European tour, saying that the players should take the blame for the team’s shoddy performances this year. They have also forged a strong team culture in 2017 after a successful pre-season camp in Plettenberg Bay.