Acceptable cost of keeping Allister Coetzee in charge

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I have maintained from the start that Allister Coetzee is not the right man to lead the Springbok charge toward RWC 2019 but like all other coaches – he needs to be given a fair shot. But at what cost?

First, let me start out by saying that my problems with Allister Coetzee and his assistant coaches are purely rugby related.

AC, Proudfoot, and Fleck were in charge at Western Province and the Stormers for 8 years and while they did manage to turn the Stormers into a competitive unit – they were not able to make them into a truly championship winning outfit. The game plan was a conservative, defense based approach to rugby that worked okay when the Stormers were ahead – but was as useful as tits on a fish when they fell behind.

This manifested in precious little silverware beside a couple of Super Rugby conference trophies and two Currie Cups.

While I will admit that it’s not necessarily the best performing coach that should be installed as the top coach in the land – an average resume as far as performance is concerned is a problem.

So that’s why I’ve never been convinced.

But like I said. He has control over the Springboks and should be given a fair shot at steering the beloved Green and Gold ship into the future.

But at what point do we admit that he simply isn’t good enough to coach – at least with his current assistants – at this level?

What would have to happen for SARU to look at the AC situation and reassess?

Let’s frame this discussion as a couple of burning questions that only SA Rugby would be able to answer.

Question 1: How few victories (or victories to lesser nations) will be too few?

The Springboks season is underway and to date we have lost to Ireland at home (for the first time), Argentina away (for the first time) and if it wasn’t for Faf De Klerk’s heroics in the last two Bok tests against Ireland – we would have lost our first home series to the Irish. We were also 10 points behind Argentina at home earlier this year before a late rally saw us home.

Next up is a wounded Australian side home and away before we take on the mighty All Blacks home and away too. I see us winning one of those challenges – Australia at home.

After that, we head to Europe to play Wales, Italy, and England. I don’t see us beating England and Wales will also be a tough one. At this stage, even Italy at home is a banana peel.

That would mean that by the end of the season we might be looking at 6 victories out of 12 – a 50% win rate. Also a possible maiden loss to Italy in there. Would we be happy to chalk that kind of performance up to AC’s ‘gameplan’ needing more time? Probably. Fair enough it will be his first season in charge but it would be very concerning indeed.

Question 2: How low is too low in terms of IRB rankings?

The second, albeit linked factor, is obviously rankings. If the Boks do have a 50% season – where could we end up rankings wise. 5th, 6th? How low is too low? Given our pool of talent, the Springboks should never be outside of the top 3 in my opinion and the fans would not be happy with the once mighty Springboks falling behind some ‘lesser’ nations.

Questions 3: How much commercial risk are SA Rugby prepared to subject themselves to?

Lastly would be general fan sentiment. While rugby critics are a dime a dozen and it’s impossible to keep everyone happy – if Springbok results suffer – so too will sentiment. The obvious byproduct of this is vitriol on Twitter but the less obvious ones are spectators at stadiums and supporter jersey purchases. What sort of commercial risk would SA Rugby be prepared to take to keep AC in charge? Time will tell.

While I’d happily admit that Toetie is a great people manager and will foster a family environment – I’m very concerned about the future of Springbok rugby in him and his assistants at the helm.

How do you feel? Am I way off the mark? As always let us know in the comments below or hit us with a tweet @leftbacks on Twitter.

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