Bok coach strikes out at SARU chief

Allister Coetzee (Gallo Images)
Allister Coetzee (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - With his much-anticipated performance review still not having taken place, an avenue has opened up for Allister Coetzee to retain his job as Springbok coach in the form of a disputed conversation he claims to have had with SA Rugby Union (Saru) chief executive Jurie Roux.

Coetzee’s review was initially pencilled in for last month, but a disagreement over the composition of the evaluating panel means Saru hopes it will be conducted this week.

The Bok coach wants him and his employer to have different human resources officials and a different rugby analyst.

Meanwhile, Coetzee this week sent each member of the Saru executive committee an email in which he makes allegations against Roux and accuses his employer of deliberately impeding him from succeeding.

In the email, Coetzee accuses Roux of having met him on January 18 to discuss the procedures of the evaluation, but ended up advising him that Saru intended to sack him immediately.

“You informed me that the decision was taken by Mark Alexander [the president of Saru], Francois Davids [the deputy president] and James Stoffberg [the vice-president], and mandated you as the chief executive officer of Saru to inform me of the decision,” Coetzee said in his correspondence.

“You further informed me that a further aspect of the decision is that my services will be terminated regardless of the outcome of the anticipated performance review, as contemplated by my employment contract and, should I wish to remain in Saru’s employment, I will be reduced to a ceremonial coach.

“And further that Johan Erasmus (‘Rassie’) has already been employed to replace me and is already performing the duties of the Springbok coach.”

A member of Saru’s executive committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed they had received Coetzee’s missive.

While Roux admitted to having met Coetzee, who was represented at the meeting by former SA Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Piet Heymans, he denied making those comments, the official said.

“With Jurie having denied what Allister wrote, this needs cross examination, because it becomes a he said, she said situation. If it is true, we owe Allister the remainder of his contract.”

Another member of the committee said he didn’t believe Roux would have made those statements because it would be “criminally stupid” to do so with a performance review pending.

When contacted, Coetzee refused to comment. Roux, through a Saru spokesperson, said: “As a matter of principle, SA Rugby does not publicly comment on employer-employee matters.”

Heymans’ cellphone when unanswered when he was called to corroborate Coetzee’s version of events.

In the email, Coetzee comes across as a disgruntled employee, accusing his employers of many things, including deliberately and strategically trying to soil his reputation.

After two seasons coaching the Boks, he has a 44% win ratio from 25 games.

“I will not allow elements in Saru to wilfully destroy me and render me unemployable, as was done to [former Bok coach] Peter de Villiers.

"I am not interested in money and I will fight to protect my hard-earned reputation, which is in the process of being deliberately soiled publicly by elements within Saru,” he wrote.

Looking at the performance review, the sticking points for the two parties are Coetzee not accepting human resources practitioner Michelle Nobre and preferring Lungile Zondi instead, and wanting Brendan Venter instead of whomever Saru chooses as the rugby analyst on the panel.

The other two members are Davids and Stoffberg. Venter bizarrely formed part of Coetzee’s management team.

It is difficult to see how Coetzee will be allowed to stay on after this email.

He appears to have little respect for Erasmus, and describes him as less qualified as a coach and intimates that reporting to him will be an “indignity”.

Coetzee has already questioned two appointments Erasmus made – defence specialist Jacques Nienaber and conditioning expert Warren Adams – without consulting him.

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