Springbok coach Allister Coetzee future as at the helm is still unclear. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

It’s actually not Toetie’s fault. Not anymore, anyway. The blame for the demise of Springbok rugby from this point on lies at the feet of the wise men who gave him a stay of execution this week, despite the annus horribilis that was 2017.

Let’s be honest, Allister Coetzee doesn’t hire himself. He doesn’t pay himself a salary to wear a Springbok blazer and pretend that he is pulling the strings in our rugby "blueprint".

Far from it. In fact, some say he is merely a puppet, a Pinocchio whose nose has to be snipped every time he has a press conference.

But can you blame him for keeping himself on these well-oiled strings?

Would you walk away from a job that continues to employ you, even after you have successfully displayed your inability for the gig?

Would any of us? In this economic climate, in this time of famine and farcical fuel prices, would you or I walk away from money for jam?

Never.

Allister Coetzee doesn’t hire himself, and he is clearly not in the business of firing himself. Those who came before him got fired for less, but that is neither here nor there now.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee talks to his players. Photo: Nic Bothma/EPA


There was a very obvious opportunity to send Coetzee on his way to Japanese obscurity this week, but the puppet-masters felt that the South African rugby public hadn’t suffered enough.

Record losses across the world were not enough to warrant the axe. So, blindly, on we plod.

On we plod to a future that is more mud than stars, and a future that will rely more on 30-Test veterans - depending on availability and desperation for relevance - than the new blood that keeps flowing into our structures.

Young men of all races are now learning that maybe it is better off to earn easy millions in Europe, Japan, Ireland or wherever else they need sincere endeavour, where they will be free from the shackles of an outdated rugby playing and administrative system.

Who would blame them? They are actually wanted there, genuinely encouraged to show the skills that made them stand out in age-group rugby, before that creativity gets coached out of them at the next level.

It’s funny how some corners are still trying to shift the blame for the junk status of our game onto transformation.

How convenient. And how utterly boring.

That stale record went out of the window in the Heyneke Meyer era, and Coetzee has made sure that it’s still not a factor in 2017.

The state of our rugby is not down to politics, or quotas, or any of that other convenient crap that gets thrown into the melting pot.

It’s down to leadership, or lack thereof. The blind have led us to this point, and they have filled key positions with equally incompetent people.

Brace yourselves for another miserable 2018. Eddie Jones will come and rub our noses in it in June, and then the Rugby Championship will serve its annual sobering assessment.

Whatever happens, from this point on, let’s never forget that there was an opportunity in December 2017 for South African rugby to change direction.

Instead, the wise men who rule the roost chose to stick their heads into Cape sand and hope for a miracle.

Incredible.


Sunday Tribune

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