Five Test matches into his tenure as Springbok head coach and the verdict is now in: Allister Coetzee is a failed coach.
And this before a single Test against the All Blacks, the Wallabies or England. South African Rugby Union has given Springbok supporters the worst of both worlds: A failed coach and an outlook that shows no possibility for improvement for years to come.
After the apocalyptic reign of Heyneke Meyer, SARU had the opportunity to select a coach with an outlook that embraced the modern era of rugby – ball possession versus territorial possession. Taking nothing away from a proud and brave Puma performance in Salta this weekend, the Boks primarily beat themselves by kicking the ball away – again. By the 35 minute of the first half, the Boks had only 30% possession. It took 19 minutes into the match before Bok centre Damien de Allende touched the ball for the first time.
During the ten minutes that the Pumas were playing with 14 men, they actually scored three points; while there were no points for the Boks during this period.
If one were to summarise the failed approach of the game plan, then it may very well be this: In the 75th minute, ahead by one point, the Boks are on the attack within the Pumas’ 22 metre line. They get quick ball from the pack, a clean pass to Steyn on the 10 metre line, who has his full backline lined up behind him and what does he do?
He does what he only knows what to do: He attempts a drop kick and misses.
This is not an attempt from the pocket 20 metres out in front of the posts; this is a 30 metre kick from a wicked angle and with plenty of options for a flyhalf to attack. The next sequence of play results in a penalty to the Pumas who convert, and hold on to secure victory 26-24.
‘Opionators’ such as us can almost hear the Bok coaching staff say ‘easy for you to criticise; why don’t you try stepping into our shoes?’
To which many of us reply: We will gladly do so.