Setting Allister Coetzee up for failure…

2016-06-15 11:38

Allister Coetzee must either be the most passionate Springbok supporter ever, or the dumbest most naïve coach to have ever coached the game of rugby.

Most South African boys wake up at night in a cold puddle of sweat, dreaming of their first run in the Green & Gold, and so too I believe every South

African born coach has dreamt the dream of coaching the Springboks and more importantly leading them to a Word Cup victory. Hence the reason I undoubtedly understand Allister Coetzee’s reason for accepting SARU’s offer, but has Allister really considered the odds?

Being in charge of South Africa’s Springboks under a title of “Springbok Coach”, is far from just a coaching job. In his capacity as “Head Coach”, he is held responsible for not only winning matches, but so too for developing younger players, nursing older players and transforming the game to attract more players of colour, let alone fielding them as there are very definite requirements set in terms of representing his country’s demography. By saying so, I am in no manner implying that Saturday’s shock loss to the Irish on home soil was as a result of transformation.

A good mate of mine, nicknamed Plug, use to be annoyingly obsessive about preparation and executing things perfectly. He would plan things for months in advance. I clearly remember old Plug drafting a perfect timetable a month before the exams so he could have a clear schedule for when and how to study. By the actual time of writing the exams he was always well prepared and did very little studying. I on the other hand started studying the night before the exam and started praying on the morning of writing. To this day Plug remains an "anally" annoying perfectionist but a true testament of what proper preparation can result in, as  Plug has made a massive success of every venture he had entered into.

As saddened as I am about the Newlands tragedy, I am even more saddened about our preparation and approach prior to this inbound tour hosting the Irish and evenly concerned about the manner in which we structure ourselves administratively. When one commits yourself to a little bit of soul searching, you very often end up having a look at how the enemy does things. In this particular case, I can’t help but envy the manner in which our old foe,  the All Blacks, handle themselves off the pitch.

New Zealand is currently in a situation where they can pick and choose between the great, and the greatest.  They don’t have to choose between inform players and players with experience. At Scrumhalf they have Aaron Smith (arguably the best nr.9 in the world based on current form), TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, and that's not even mentioning the likes of Weber and Ellis who has to be happy with watching the Wales series on telly…

Same story at first-five-eight. Regardless of the fact that Daniel Carter had dominated the international scene for more than 13 years, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett could still manage to stack up 38 and 37 international test caps respectively. As a result New Zealand could never really be caught off guard in their pivotal position. The manner in which the All Blacks faze in young blood is absolutely phenomenal.

Over the past six years South Africa had seen more scrumhalves in the Springbok setup than Oprah Winfrey had heard sad stories. Except for the likes of Fourie du Preez and Ruan Pienaar,

Jano Vermaak, Francois Hougaard, Cobus Reinach, Charl McLoed, Louis Schreuder, Rudi Page, Piet Van Zyl, Sarel Pretorius, Boela Abrahams and Faf de Klerk all at some or other point either wore a Springbok jersey or a Springbok tracksuit. You see the problem is that we are so caught up in winning every single match that we actually start losing perception of reality. We literally fudged  things up by not identifying any one of the above mentioned players and stuck with them until they finally developed into a “Fourie du Preez”….

Then there is the much discussed matter of captaincy. As painful as it is I must once again revert back to the Kiwis…  Kieran Read already took charge of the All Black outfit in 2012. Now you might point out that Read’s international career might soon be at an end and rightly so, but then again they have already fazed in young gun Sam Cane…

Cane took charge of the All Blacks in a World Cup fixture against Namibia back in 2015, under the guidance of Keiran Read and the great Richie McCaw. Whenever Cane had to give one of the older chaps a bit of lip McCaw was right by his side to back him up, with the senior guys slowly starting to build confidence in Cane’s ability as a leader. We on the other hand are forced by poor management to select a captain in less than 14 days prior to a test match. How on earth could we compare that type of organisational structure to that of the All blacks? In fact, how can we wait until April, to finally sign a coach at this level and expect him to produce positive results with only one month to prepare? We are seriously planting manure and expecting to reap chocolates…

As I have it, Rassie Erasmus was well prepared and well qualified to take charge of the Springboks at the end of last year’s world cup. Equally if not better qualified was "Samurai" Eddie Jones….           Surely if a provincial franchise like the Stormers could lure Jones, then SARU could have afforded the likes of Jones also. Now I am not for one second implying that Jones or Erasmus should have gotten the knot instead of Allister Coetzee, but what I would for damn sure like to put on the table is the fact that SARU had magnificent options with coaches not tied or contracted to other employers, and subsequently had to wait until late March to get the deal done!

Apart from that, the South African Minister of Sport, Mr. Fikile Mbalula upon the introduction of the new Springbok coach, clearly and openly stated that the coach would be held responsible for transformation and that transforming the game of rugby would be as high a priority as winning. As stated in a previous article, I find it ridiculously absurd to expect a national coach to be held responsible for transformation! Transformation surely has its place not only in rugby but in general, and we all know the wrongs of yesterday, but to openly start abusing sport to win votes is by my account one of the worst things a political party can do.

The Lions has been phenomenal in this year’s Super Rugby comp and as a result Lionel Mapoe deservedly got his call up to the Bok squad. In my books he thoroughly deserves a shot in the Green & Gold but due to politicians playing their own game, Lionel’s family has to be content with people that might be referring to him as a “quota” player, which on current form he is not. JP Peterson has played for the Springboks on 67 occasions and crossed the white line 23 times. Though he is far from “on form”, he started in the nr 14 jumper due to his experience. If I were to coach the Boks I would also have opted for JP just because he has what it takes when the chips are down and the fact that he has been around the block. But now due to regulations, he gets picked and now you start hearing echoes of “quota” around the camping fires. How sad is this for a country that’s been independent for more than 22 years? In fact, how sad, unfair and unfortunate is this towards the players who worked so hard to represent their families and their country?

Still, the ANCYL has the audacity to threaten SARU with sabotaging the tour due to their atrocious idea of transformation.

I have been following South African rugby for numerous years and in doing so, I am rather astute with Allister Coetzee’s career as a provincial coach, and never have I once gotten the idea that he would field a player less capable due to the colour of his skin. Coetzee at a certain stage preferred playing Dewaldt Dievenage above Enrico Januarie, while I had felt that January was the better of the two, so I will find it horrendous if SARU and the ANC causes this good man to discard of his moral values. The mere fact that Allister Coetzee has agreed to these kinds of terms and conditions and knowingly concurred with SARU under these circumstances, has me rather worried about his intellect, but very confident in his loyalty towards South African rugby.

I really do hope that we give the Irish a massive thumping in the two remaining fixtures and that the Bokke can conquer all the odds stacked up against them by a lack of proper management setting up a great squad to not succeed.

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