JOHANNESBURG – Allister Coetzee will be in charge of the Springboks for the last time on Saturday when his team take on Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Coetzee will be relieved of his duties in the next two weeks, but possibly even as early as next Friday.
It is understood the South African Rugby Union have lost patience with Coetzee and his battling Boks, who before today’s match, have won 11 Tests out of 24, a less than 50% success rate.
But the majority of those wins have come against opposition ranked lower than the Boks in the rankings, among them France, Argentina and Italy; the latter two actually registering wins of their own against the Boks in recent times.
Against top tier opposition like New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Wales, the Boks have struggled and failed to show they are on an upwards curve.
Record defeats to New Zealand, Italy and Ireland have also seriously damaged the reputation of the national side, and it is understood sponsors of the Boks are not happy with the current state of the team.
Many of Coetzee’s selections have been questioned, and he has at times also failed to reach transformation targets.
Newly appointed director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will take charge of the Boks in the new year, even though he will officially not go under the title of “head coach”.
Erasmus was brought back from Munster in Ireland recently with the sole purpose of turning the Bok team around and making them a winning combination again.
He will, from 2018, pick the Bok squads, decide on game plans and the structures and fulfil the role of head coach.
His duties will be similar to those of Eddie Jones, who is director of rugby with England, and he will be a hands-on coach, directing affairs on and off the field.
Erasmus’ right-hand man will be defence guru Jacques Nienaber, who returned with him from Munster.
Other newcomers to the 2018 coaching team may include Deon Davids, the Southern Kings coach who is widely respected for making the Eastern Cape team competitive with little resources, former Bok boss Peter de Villiers, former Bok assistant Mzwandile Stick and possibly Davids’ right-hand man at the Kings, Barend Pieterse.
These men are believed to be options Erasmus is considering to help rejuvenate the Boks next year, leaving the Bok futures of the likes of Franco Smith, Matthew Proudfoot and consultant Brendan Venter up in the air.
Already Proudfoot has been linked to a job in Japan, along with his good friend Coetzee, who it is believed is just waiting for his dismissal to be finalised before signing on the dotted line in Japan.
The Boks’ lineout specialist Johann van Graan has already departed the national set-up after seeing the writing on the wall earlier in the year, and has taken up Erasmus’ old role at Munster.
It is further understood SA Rugby are considering scrapping the 30-Test eligibility rule for overseas-based players; something which was implemented to help halt the player drain from South Africa.
However, the unavailability because of this rule of several Europe-based men has been put forward as a one of the reasons why the Boks have struggled so much in some areas this year.
Scrapping this rule would open the door for several players to again become available for the Boks, and thus strengthening the squad.
Also, it is believed Erasmus is keen to involve a few senior Boks based overseas next year and in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, among them Frans Steyn and especially Duane Vermeulen, who is rumoured to be in discussions around a possible move back to South Africa, and potentially taking up the Bok captaincy in 2018.