Boks coach Allister Coetzee "definitely going to be sacked"

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee’s future employment could be counted in days after SA Rugby’s executive council met on Sunday and Monday to discuss it.

Coetzee’s job wasn’t the only item on the scheduled agenda but it was the most pressing.

The exact outcome of the gathering remains unclear at this stage.

The Springboks lost eight of 12 Tests under Coetzee in 2016‚ which included a record loss to the All Blacks (57-15 in Durban) and a maiden defeat to Italy (20-18 in Florence).

The Boks also lost at home to Ireland for the first time and away to Argentina for the first time.

They never won an away game and conceded a mammoth 35 tries in 12 Tests – matching the shambolic 2002 season under Rudolph Straeuli.

Despite Coetzee lamenting his late appointment and factors such as a player brain drain as contributors to the poor results‚ there is no justifiable reason to keep him on after a 33 per cent win ratio.

But dismissing him is not an easy process under South African labour law‚ which is why SA Rugby has carefully and methodically undertaken a review of his brief tenure so far.

They are doing it all by the book – and even that might not be enough to show the coach the door.

One source told Times Media Digital that Coetzee‚ who still has three years to run on his contract‚ was ‘definitely going to be sacked’.

But other sources indicated that sacking Coetzee is unlikely because the sports ministry has ‘urged’ SA Rugby to give the incumbent another year.

The confusion mounts as a further source claims that big business and potential sponsors are threatening to withdraw their support for SA Rugby if Coetzee is retained.

SA Rugby predictably would not be drawn on the matter‚ saying in an email to TMG that they would only comment once the review was complete.

Their initial time frame for its completion was the end of January‚ but that pace might have been accelerated by a few days given mounting speculation regarding the position.

Over the past week unsubstantiated claims that former Stormers and Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus has been approached to replace Coetzee have surfaced.

Erasmus’ lawyer Frikkie Erasmus denied those reports: “Rassie has not been approached at all‚ it is pure speculation‚” he told Times Media Digital.

Former Bok coach Jake White‚ who led the team to the 2007 World Cup title and will be out of contract with French club side Montpellier in June‚ also laughed off suggestions he had been approached when asked.

Erasmus is only nine months in to a three-year deal with Irish province Munster‚ where he is the director of rugby.

Extricating him from that deal would be costly‚ particularly as employing defence coach Jacques Nienaber would almost certainly be one of Erasmus' demands.

White’s Montpellier are third on the standings after 16 rounds and in contention to win the French Top 14 championships as well.

But he would relish another shot at the Bok job.

Sacking Coetzee over his results would be perfectly legitimate but even if wins and losses were overlooked‚ his position remains untenable because of the alarming way the Boks deteriorated throughout 2016.

Seldom‚ if ever‚ has a Bok team looked so bereft of direction‚ leadership and planning as it did by the end of the season – arguably a bigger stick than poor results‚ with which to beat Coetzee.

SA Rugby’s decision on Coetzee’s future will basically come down to whether the organisation is strong enough to make the only logical choice it has‚ and sack the coach‚ or risk another year of sub-standard performances at great cost to rugby. - TMG Digital

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