CAPE TOWN – Springbok fans have had enough and have called for Allister Coetzee’s head following the 57-0 drubbing at the hands of the All Blacks, but the coach says he is going nowhere.
The Springboks arrived back in South Africa late on Sunday afternoon after the nightmare at the North Harbour Stadium in Albany – the worst defeat points-wise in history, surpassing the 53-3 loss to England in 2002.
Saturday’s eight-try thrashing took Coetzee’s overall record to nine wins and nine losses in 19 Tests, along with last week’s 23-23 draw against the Wallabies in Perth.
That included a number of unwanted records – two 50-pointers against the All Blacks, as well as defeats to Italy and Argentina.
Coetzee, though, says he is not answerable to his critics on social media. “Well, one loss doesn’t define this team. There is still a lot of belief in this team, and still a lot of belief in myself and the plan that we are going to go forward with,” the coach said.
“There is a process that we are following, and you know, I couldn’t care what Twitter says – I’m working for SA Rugby, not for Twitter! And we are really moving in the right direction.
“The next step is Australia, and we are not worried about New Zealand. We will get to the New Zealand week when we are playing New Zealand at Newlands.”
Coetzee pointed out that losing three first-choice players in Coenie Oosthuizen, Jaco Kriel and Ross Cronjé in the week of the All Black Test affected the team, explaining that “therefore we couldn’t keep the continuity, and obviously it’s a Test of our depth. I’m pleased to say that those players (who came in) tried their best, and it just shows that we are not there yet”.
The fact remains that it was an unmitigated disaster to lose by 57 points without reply. The coach admitted that the lineout was dysfunctional, and that the Boks’ execution was poor on the day.
But Coetzee feels that there was “no lack of intensity, energy and effort from our boys”, and in fact stated that the Boks had moved forward on tour.
“This doesn’t push us back at all. In my book, it’s still a massive progression. This is the only Test we’ve lost so far – we’ve won five from seven, and drew against Australia,” he said.
“Last year, we lost both Tests against Australia and New Zealand, and this year we were very unlucky not to come away with the spoils against Australia.
“New Zealand rested eight players (against Argentina), they had a lot to play for – they’ve been criticised a lot – and just the bounce of the ball, everything favoured them on Saturday – and there are no excuses for that.”
The Boks’ next Test is against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein on September 30, and SA Rugby announced earlier on Monday that seven Springboks have been released to their provinces for Currie Cup duty this weekend – Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw (all Western Province), Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dan du Preez (both Sharks), and Handré Pollard and Rudy Paige (both Blue Bulls).