Will fear of Fikile save Bok coach?

Fikile Mbalula (Gallo Images)
Fikile Mbalula (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s support for Allister Coetzee may have saved the Springbok coach his job.

Well, for the moment, it seems.

Coetzee has come under immense pressure after losing eight of his 12 Tests during 2016 and there have been calls for his sacking from all corners of the country.

Recent reports indicated that SA Rugby was keen to replace Coetzee with Rassie Erasmus, who is the current director of rugby at Irish club Munster.

However, a report which broke on the TimesLIVE website on Wednesday night indicated that Coetzee will not be sacked before the start of the new international season.

Instead, the report says, he will be given the June series against France to prove his worth.

The Boks take on France in three Test matches in South Africa over that period and, according to the article, Coetzee will be sacked if the Boks lose that series.

The report also hinted that SA Rugby came under pressure from the sports ministry to retain Coetzee.

Netwerk24, a local Afrikaans news website, also reported on the story and in their report Mbalula’s name is mentioned.

There it is suggested that SA Rugby is wary to get rid of Coetzee as it would not appease Mbalula, who has the final say on whether SA Rugby can go ahead with its bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The sports minister last year banned the federations in control of rugby, cricket, athletics and netball in South Africa from "bidding for or hosting any major sporting events".

It followed the release of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report that revealed that all four of those federations had failed in meeting their transformation targets.

In 2017, Mbalula will decide whether to continue with the suspension‚ or rescind it.

SA Rugby’s executive council reportedly met over the past week to discuss the issue regarding the Springbok coaching position.

It is believed that there was division on whether Coetzee should stay on as Bok coach.

The Boks' horror 2016 season included a first ever loss to Ireland on home soil, losing away to Argentina, a 57-15 pummelling at home against the All Blacks, as well as going down to lowly Italy - also for the first time ever.

The first Test against France is scheduled for Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on June 10.

The second Test will take place at Kings Park in Durban on June 17, while the third and final match will be held at Ellis Park in Johannesburg (June 24).

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