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The Abusive Relationship Between Allister Coetzee And SA Rugby Is Over

Let’s be honest – this relationship was never going to work.

02/02/2018 15:28 SAST | Updated 02/02/2018 15:28 SAST
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Allister Coetzee.

An open letter to Allister Coetzee:

So, the abusive relationship is over, Allister. Earlier today, you and SA Rugby decided to terminate your two-year relationship.

Let's be honest – this relationship was never going to work. After the departure of Heyneke Meyer, Rassie Erasmus was next in line for the Bok coaching job – even though as coach, the only trophy Erasmus won was the Currie Cup more than a decade ago.

Certain members of the SARU executive, however, played the transformation card and wanted a coach of colour. This being South African Rugby, there were not many candidates to choose from.

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Allistair Coetzee, Jake White, Ashwin Willemse and Enrico Januarie look on during a Springbok training session.

SA Rugby then went looking in Japan, and lured you back to South Africa because "your country needed you." At the time, you ticked all the boxes: transformation, successful at Super Rugby level, an assistant coach when the Boks won the World Cup in 2007... what more could SA Rugby ask for?

The tide has now turned, however, and your country does not need you anymore, Allister.

Rassie is back from Ireland, under your tenure the Boks have a winning record of 44 percent, and your game plan and team selections have left many South Africans embarrassed – with record defeats to Ireland, New Zealand and Italy.

I spoke to you on the day of your appointment, and asked about your mandate for the Boks. You said "I want to make the Boks competitive and bring pride back to the green-and-gold jersey."

You didn't do this – the only time you came close to doing this was in the 2017 Rugby Championship against the All Blacks at Newlands, where the team played with passion and lost by one point against the world champions.

You and SA Rugby are both to blame for what happened in this relationship and how it ended. The once mighty Springboks are now the laughing stock of the rugby world.

You only have yourself to blame, Allister. The warning signs were there from day one. I questioned you on the timing of your appointment, just two months before the 2016 series against Ireland. You said: "I will only get the team a week before the first test anyway, so there's time to do some planning."

The result? You lost the first test against Ireland, and from there it was a downward spiral. I will save you the embarrassment of going through the rest of your record as Springbok coach.

But one thing is sure – you and SA Rugby are both to blame for what happened in this relationship and how it ended. The once mighty Springboks are now the laughing stock of the rugby world.

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Allistair Coetzee kicks the ball during the Springboks captains run held at the Galway Sports Grounds.

The way SA Rugby treated you – the limited resources and selection of your coaching staff and overseas-based players – made your job even more difficult. But you've been there before with Jake White from 2004 to 2007, and you knew what you were getting yourself into.

SA Rugby set you up to fail, and the sad part is that neither your nor the Springbok team's interests were a priority in the past two years.

The confirmation of the new Springbok management set-up is due to be completed before the end of February, and prodigal son Rassie Erasmus will most likely have the opportunity to take the team to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan – something some of the bosses at SA Rugby wanted from day one.

Delivering true PR spin, CEO of SA Rugby Jurie Roux said in a statement confirming your departure: "We'd like to thank Allister for his passion and dedication to the Springbok cause, and wish him every success in his next role. This new role will most likely be in Japan. Good luck, Allister..."