Springbok coach Allister Coetzee. Photo: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

PRETORIA - Allister Coetzee must go! That call was echoed throughout South Africa, and even abroad, after yet another record loss by the Springboks on Saturday - this time to Ireland.

Unfortunately the firing of Coetzee and bringing in someone new would be like placing a plaster over a gaping wound that is in dire need of more specialised care. It would be treating the symptoms, not the cause.

Removing Coetzee as head coach now won’t solve the obvious problems that we saw unfold on the field of play at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

With Coetzee out of the door, it won’t make players pass with a four-man overlap instead of kick; look before they pass; kick accurately for the contestable bombs; make offensive tackles; react quicker on defence; run into space and at the weaker shoulder instead of running across and behind the advantage line; think on their feet; show an appreciation for possession; and to receive the ball in motion and with both hands to keep the opposition defence guessing.

Replacing Coetzee - as was the case with Jake White, Peter de Villiers and Heyneke Meyer - will do little or nothing to save the once mighty Springboks, let alone take them to the next level of complete world domination.

That is because the Boks are a small, but significant cog of a gigantic machine that is in serious need of an overhaul.

The problem in Dublin was not that Coetzee and his assistant coaches Franco Smith and Brendan Venter were found wanting with their game plan, it was the poor - and at times lack of - execution by the players.

The Boks were all poor on the day and looked lost at sea with no leadership to speak of, and the players who looked like near world beaters against New Zealand just a month ago, now looked like a bunch of part-time amateurs purporting to be professional rugby players representing their country.

But who can blame the players, because there is a general lack of leadership in SA, let alone our rugby that has seemingly infected all spheres of life in our beautiful country.

Politics aside, or rather the circus of SA politics, there needs to be something done about coaching in the country from Super Rugby level all the way down to the little boys and girls who run around for the love of the game before the big knocks of the sport take a toll, even on their thinking.

Our players aren’t coached to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, make situation-based decisions. Nor are they taught the proper skill sets to survive and thrive in a game of rugby.

What SA has done for a long time is create robots who must adhere to instruction, even if that plan is failing dismally on the field of play, like it did on Saturday.

Fixing the coaching from the bottom up and getting the players to think differently about the game. instead of being thought for, could go a long way in healing the ugly wound that we saw in Dublin.

There are many other things that also need healing in SA rugby, especially administrative wise, but a good start will be the coaches and players.

That role must be for none other than the director of rugby for Saru, Rassie Erasmus, instead of him being openly touted as the man who can save Bok rugby.

The only way Erasmus can save Bok rugby is to focus on getting the coaching and players thinking right from junior rugby all the way up, and for him to stay well clear of the poisoned chalice that is the head coach job.

For Coetzee to survive beyond this tour, he will need to make the right selection calls and come up with an attacking game plan that will not only be good enough to beat France but will also give the players the freedom to express themselves in the way we know some of them can.

Pretoria News

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