CAPE TOWN – The inevitable finally happened on a rainy Friday morning – Allister Coetzee is no longer the Springbok coach.
The worst-kept secret in South African rugby was confirmed by the SA Rugby Union through a short statement at 11am that the coach and organisation have “part ways” after a tumultuous two-year period.
The Boks had mainly lows under Coetzee, although there was the odd high as well in a record of 11 wins in 25 Tests, including two draws to the Wallabies.
We take a look at the main points of Coetzee’s time in charge of the Boks…
1. A series win against Ireland in 2016
While some Bok fans may think that beating the Irish in South Africa should be a routine exercise, nothing ever is in South African rugby these days.
Coetzee was on the back foot at the start as he was only appointed on 12 April 2016, which was just two months to the first Test against Ireland at Newlands.
The lack of preparation time showed as the Boks slumped to a 26-20 defeat in Cape Town, but while they weren’t convincing, they at least came back to win the series 2-1.
2. Beating France four times in a row
Again, Springbok teams of the last 15 years have seldom battled against the French, but after the horror of the 2016 season, any win was welcome.
The Boks started off 2017 on a high by dispatching Les Bleus 3-0 on home soil, and then pulled off a one-point triumph in Paris last November.
3. Trouncing Argentina in Salta
You might say we’re scraping the barrel with this one as a highlight, but times were tough for the Boks over the last two years.
The 41-23 win was one of the better performances on Coetzee’s watch. Perhaps spurred on by criticism of a weird-looking red (maybe deep orange!) jersey – to commemorate 25 years of unity in South African rugby – Eben Etzebeth and his men produced a bonus-point victory in what is normally a difficult encounter in Argentina.
1. Record 57-0 defeat to the All Blacks
Yes, New Zealand are the undoubted kings of rugby. But to slump to yet another unwanted record in Albany last year, and conceding eight tries, proved just how far the Boks had fallen under Coetzee.
And to make matters worse, the coach had the audacity to say that he had found some “positives” from the game!
2. The 57-15 Kings Park disaster
The Boks got 15 points this time, but this was in some respects even worse than the Albany capitulation – because the hosts were just 12-9 down at halftime.
To concede 45 points in the second half was a total blow-out, and the start of the downward spiral under Coetzee.
3. Losing to Italy
Florence is regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Italy, but it got ugly for the Boks in November 2016, and the loss matched the 2015 debacle against Japan under Heyneke Meyer.
The Boks even had 15 minutes at the end to win the game after the Italians had taken a 20-18 lead, but surrendered to the Azzurri for the very first time.