Coetzee has all it takes to make Boks shine again

2016-05-25 06:00

SO who exactly is this chubby-faced fellow who goes by the name of Allister Coetzee and has been saddled with the title “new Springbok rugby coach” – in a tone that quite a few so-called experts have greeted without a great deal of enthusiasm?

Briefly he is 52 years old and not surprisingly, to go by his shortish, stocky build, is a former scrumhalf who represented the Junior Springboks at the height of his playing days in 1992.

He is arguably, in these times, the most perfectly suited candidate for the job. Grahamstown born, he is a schoolteacher by profession and first rose to prominence as Currie Cup coach of Eastern Province in 1996 and then assistant coach of the Sharks.

Soon he rose to greater prominence. In his first year in charge, his WP-based Stormers lost 25-17 to the Bulls in an historic final in Soweto. The Stormers then proceeded to win Super Rugby playoffs in four out of six consecutive seasons, and, as Western Province Coetzee’s team also won Currie Cup titles in 2012 and 2014.

He is the 13th Springbok coach since re-admission to international rugby, and SARU president, Oregon Hoskins, rates Coetzee as “the most experienced and exciting coach to take the Springbok reins since South Africa’s re-admission to World Rugby.” He’s got all that it takes to chivvy the Boks to the top of the heap once more.

Make no mistake with Ireland due to play a mini three-Test series against the Springboks in the near future, Coetzee stands on the brink of what many believe will be a new era of the game for South African rugby. Among the many hurdles standing before the Springboks at the very beginning of the Coetzee era – and certainly its most testing – will be the tricky business of transformation.

It has to be done, of course, and the sooner the better. It’s a bit of a prickly thorn but it must be faced. Cricket had much the same problem but they tackled it head-on and today the sport is much the better for it.

AND here’s a thought...In years to come you could find yourself looking back at the performance of a tall, rangy black lad from King Edwards School in Johannesburg, who scored two breathtaking tries at home to draw 32-all against Maritzburg College recently. There’s no need to mention his name – those who were there saw it clearly stamped on the Houghton grass. And don’t be surprised if in a few years from now he emerges in a Springbok No. 12 or 13 jersey. They don’t come like that too often.

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