Allister Coetzee has been confirmed as Springbok coach despite a terrible 2016 season which prompted fans and rugby stakeholders in South Africa alike to call for him to be removed from the post.
The Springboks have always been a force in world rugby, but last year saw the team struggle to replicate their usual good form against top sides.
Coetzee survived a review to keep his job as coach of the side despite a terrible first season in charge in which the Springboks experienced a number of embarrassing losses while looking out of sorts at times.
South Africa lost eight out of their 12 games last year, with a first loss at home to Ireland, a first loss in Argentina, a record 57-15 loss to the All Blacks of New Zealand, and a first loss to Italy, who are still considered minnows of rugby in global terms.
The Springboks had never lost that many games in a single season, and despite the shocking results produced under Coetzee’s watch, the South African rugby authorities decided to give him their backing after completing the review over the last three months.
Addressing the confirmation of Coetzee, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander discussed the changes that would be made to support the head coach in the coming season.
“Our coaching review was focused on the Springboks and we identified two areas to give Allister Coetzee additional support at the head of our most prized national asset,” said Alexander, according to SuperSport.
SA Rugby have added Franco Smith, South Africa’s 2016 Currie Cup-winning coach, to the Springbok technical staff on a permanent basis as an assistant coach, while they also said they would name a new defence coach in the coming days.
“Franco Smith will continue the work he began with the backs and attack at the end of last year while we are very excited about the new defensive coach we have identified to address matters raised during the review. We expect to be able to confirm that appointment shortly,” he added.
“I would like to apologise to our supporters for the delay in this announcement but assure them that it was necessitated not by a lack of clarity of intent, but by the need to first resolve all contractual issues. The outcomes we now have were agreed with Allister some weeks ago,” Alexander confirmed.
With the review now complete and his job safe, Coetzee can focus on the task at hand, which includes a three Test home series against France in June this year, providing him with a chance to begin his second chance with the Springboks on the right foot.
The coach was given a four-year contract at the start of 2016, with three years left to run on that deal, unless the authorities step in to fire him for poor performances this season.