Coetzee: Ja, well, no fine

Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

Would the RFU have broken the bank for Allister Coetzee?

How many provincial unions are chasing Mzwandile Stick as a backline coach?

This not to belittle either man, but to make a point. That being to question whether we as a nation are chasing excellence, or settling for people who are happy to pursue an ulterior mandate?

Yes we have a unique situation here in South Africa, but as said in a previous column, you simply cannot task the coach of the highest team in the land with transformation. That is a cop out and an admittance that all other attempts in this arena have failed.

And that’s why seeing sports minister Fikile Mbalula, late as usual, sitting at Tuesday’s press conference looking like the cat that ate the cream, got my goat.

“I don’t believe it is a token appointment,” said Mbalula. “Today is a great moment for rugby,” continued the minister. “I thank the board for the appointment. I am happy with where rugby is going with regard to transformation. It’s no longer cheap talk.”

Really? If transformation is such a biggie, and clearly it is, then Mbalula and the government, together with SARU, the schools, clubs, universities, provinces, and the franchises must be tasked with giving the Bok coach more players of colour to pick.

Not putting a black coach in place because he will be more inclined to pick black players!

All this does is put Coetzee on the back foot from the get go.

People, including me, chased Heyneke Meyer out of town for various reasons, but mine and many others' gripe was primarily about the dour and old fashioned brand of rugby we were playing, and not believing him to be the man to evolve the SA game.

Coetzee was chased out of the Cape because his team had been labelled the “Wall of Cape Town” such was his focus on defence, along with his inability to win games once through to the knock-out stages of Super Rugby.

So is he really the man who is going to rock the boat and rattle cages while improving skills and conditioning in order to implement a more modern attack-based game?


Nope, this era is about new objectives and new KPIs. Not that they are mutually exclusive from on field success, but hells bells, that is a big ask. So what we need from SARU is their public backing of Coetzee by making these KPIs known to all. Having a set of private objectives, yet setting the media and public loose on him around only on-field success would just be unfair!

Already Coetzee has had to defend the Stick appointment, declaring it his responsibility to develop young coaches of colour. This while coaching a side that needs to be 50% black by 2019. Is this fair on a single human?

“Nice” or “Fine” are not words that I want on my tombstone when I join Frans Erasmus and Tommie Laubscher propping up the bar at heaven’s rugby pub, as I think they are the definition of taking the path most trod or fence sitting. Yet this is how I feel about Coetzee’s appointment.

And perhaps given the new set of objectives, a safe appointment is what’s needed, but do not call it chasing excellence, and do not ask me to get excited about it.

Allister Coetzee is a good person, and a great rugby man. The Bok coaching job is factually the toughest gig in world rugby. That he has chosen to take it on shows character and guts. As a South African I will support him 100%.

But let’s be open an honest about his objectives, and judge him accordingly.

Tank Lanning is a former Western Province prop and vociferous tweeter from @frontrowgrunt.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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