Coetzee stays, despite his 'darkest hour'

Sun, 20 Nov 2016 00:18

REACTION: South African coach Allister Coetzee admitted enduring the "darkest hour" of his coaching career on Saturday.

The historic 18-20 defeat to Italy in Florence left his future hanging in the balance.

Recently, the South Africans lost heavily to New Zealand (15-57) and their 21-37 loss to England at Twickenham a week ago was their first reverse to the Red Roses in a decade.

However, Coetzee said he is still the right man to get the Springboks back on track.

Ranked fourth in the world, the two-time World Cup-winning Boks' maiden defeat to a new-look Italy side was their sixth Test reverse in seven outings - and their seventh in 11 Tests this year.

Coetzee cut a glum figure afterwards, but said he would, or could, not resign.

"That is out of my hands," he told a media gathering, adding: But definitely, that is not Sprinboks standard.

"I'd say it's the darkest moment of my coaching career. The toughest.

"But I don't want to look at it emotionally now, because emotions are high."

Ahead of Saturday's game, Boks fans at home and abroad expressed fears of a "repeat of Brighton".

Coetzee added: "It's not good enough losing to Japan or Italy. No disrespect to Italy, they deserved their victory today.

"I can only congratulte them on an outstanding performance from a team that has maybe lacked belief, and a young team without any pressure on them.

"I believe I am the right man. I haven't lost the dressing room," Coetzee said after the game.

"We have a good plan and the players have bought into that.

"There wasn't a single moment during our preparation this week there the attitude of the players weren't right."

A fan backlash on social media suggests change is in the air for one of rugby's most formidable sides.

But a statement from South African rugby chiefs suggested a knee-jerk reaction would not be made.

"The whole of South African rugby is extremely disappointed with this year's Springbok results and deeply worrying aspects of the performances. It has not been good enough and no one is pretending otherwise," SA Rugby President Mark Alexander said.

"We have a minimum target of winning three out of four test matches each season - which is better than the historical record - but we have not come close this season.

"It would be easy to lay the blame for that at one door or another and look for scapegoats but it would also be an oversimplification.

"All of us within South African rugby need to look at ourselves and ask what we could have done differently in aid of the Springbok cause.

"Those questions will be asked at the end of the season when we will undertake a full review of the year and what new interventions may be needed to turn things around."

South Africa end their yesr-end tour against Wales in Cardiff next week.

"There's a mountain to climb, and I suppose as a group we have to start digging and get ourselves out of that hole," Coetzee said.

Skipper Strauss said the team was very disappointed by the performance against Italy.

"We are not going to offer any excuses, what happened today was not worthy of what we stand for as a team and as a rugby playing country," Strauss said.

"We are in a dark place at the moment and we must get ourselves out of it."

Full statement from SA Rugby President Mark Alexander :

"The whole of South African rugby is extremely disappointed with this year's Springbok results and deeply worrying aspects of the performances. It has not been good enough and no one is pretending otherwise.

"We have a minimum target of winning three out of four test matches each season -which is better than the historical record -but we have not come close this season.

"It would be easy to lay the blame for that at one door or another and look for scapegoats but it would also be an oversimplification.

"All of us within South African rugby need to look at ourselves and ask what we could have done differently in aid of the Springbok cause.

"Those questions will be asked at the end of the season when we will undertake a full review of the year and what new interventions may be needed to turn things around.

"We began that work recently with the coaching indaba. It set out to align national and Super Rugby coaches on the technical, tactical and conditioning requirements to succeed in 2017 and beyond.

"We also have to review such things as how we manage the fact that so many of our leading players are now based outside South Africa and more are being lured there.

"No group of individuals is more concerned or disappointed right now than the Springbok team and management. We know they are better than this.

"After that it is our job to take steps to do as much as we possibly can to make sure we are not in a similar position in 12 months' time. Our focus is on solutions and finding answers to our current problems.

"We have a test against Wales on Saturday and then we will review the season and spend time determining a path for the future."