When the sacking of Allister Coetzee as Springbok coach was announced on Friday, former Springbok players shared their empathy for Coetzee and wished him the best going forward in his career.
After two woeful seasons as Springbok coach, in which his side won only 11 Tests of 25 (44 percent), Coetzee got the axe – but several former Boks came out in support of him and thanked him for his service as Bok coach.
"It's a shame for SA rugby, considering our background and where we are coming from," said Errol Tobias, who became the first black Springbok in 1980. "We would [have] loved to see Allister continue – it was the opportunity of his career. But it did not happen because of various reasons, which I will not get into. The big question is – is his replacement going to better him? However, I hope Coetzee succeeds in his new venture."
In 2016, the Boks won only four Tests of 12 (33.3 percent), and in 2017 they won seven of 13 (54 percent).
Former Bok lock Kevin de Klerk said: "Thank you for your service to SA. I don't think any coach would go out not wanting or intending to do better. He tried his best, but I am glad he stepped down, because of the pressure."
De Klerk added that whoever comes in next must rejuvenate the side and make SA rugby great again ahead of the next World Cup.
Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers told EWN that Coetzee was forced out because "people didn't give him the support", and Joel Stransky, the legendary flyhalf who won SA the RWC in 1995 with that heart-stopping drop-goal in extra time when the Boks were tied against New Zealand, said SA Rugby was also partly at fault.
Stransky feels "SA rugby [is] partly to blame – they need to do better in terms of keeping our best players playing in the country... and [making sure] our coaching structures are stronger".
Coetzee's response to his sacking was humble and heartfelt: "I have always held Springbok rugby dear to my heart, and will continue to do so. For that reason, I think now is the time for the team and me strike out in new directions. I wish Springbok rugby every success in the future, as I have always done."