Coetzee pledges continuity

The departure of Jake White from the Springbok team has caused critics to claim that South African rugby could again lose the momentum built up through a World Cup victory.

However, White’s backline coach, Alistair Coetzee, is convinced he has the perfect answer to that conundrum.

Coetzee is one of four candidates on the shortlist to take over from White, who last week confirmed his stated intention of stepping down after the Boks’ year-end tour to Wales and England.

Also on the Bok shortlist are the Bulls’ Super 14-winning coach Heyneke Meyer, SA Under-21 coach Pieter de Villiers, as well as former Cats and SA Sevens coach Chester Williams.

Yet Coetzee is the one candidate that feels he brings a good measure of consistency with him.

“I have been part of the success story of Springboks at the World Cup [in France last month] and I have been involved with Jake White’s coaching set-up for the past four years,” Coetzee said in an interview.

“No doubt it helps a lot that I have had an opportunity to become familiar with the Springbok structures during the past four years.

“It is important that there is some continuity in the national team set-up.

“Jake [White] started many good things. Those simply can’t now be pushed aside, with us starting from scratch. I would use all the good that was established over the past four years as a foundation for the future.

“We [South Africa] are now the number one team [on the International Rugby Board (IRB) rankings] and we must remain a force.

“For me one of the most important factors would always be continuity – in terms of the systems, team selections and even the management structures. It is vital that you have the right people around you,” Coetzee added.

And having been involved at Springbok level for the past four years also means Coetzee has an intimate knowledge of the talent available to whomever takes over from White.

“There is just so much talent at our disposal that I feel we have not even reached our full potential as a Springbok team yet,” Coetzee told this website.

“I am really excited about what the future holds for us. Apart from England, South Africa have the highest number of registered players.

“There is just an unbelievable amount of potential here.

“We have the right foundation, with our school system the perfect feeder ground, where the culture for rugby is created.

“You can see it in the successes of our junior teams – Under-19 and Under-21 – at the IRB age-group tournaments,” Coetzee added.

Coetzee, who’s contract as Springbok backline coach also expires after the year-end tour, acknowledges that South African rugby provides a very unique set of hurdles for any coach.

Apart from the obvious need to be sensitive about the political environment a Bok coach will be working in, there are those almost unrealistic demands “winning at all costs” that he will also have to deal with.

The South African public are among the most unforgiving anywhere in the world.

“Yes, indeed, we live in a very passionate country.

“If you think that it [coaching the Boks] will be a walk in the park, you should not bother applying for the job,” he said.

Coetzee talks of the “accountability” of the coach to both the public and his bosses who pay his salary.

“It is all part of the package, these pressures, and you must accept it if you want to be a Bok coach. You will always be under constant scrutiny and enormous pressure, but as a coach you live for the times when you achieve success and have to stand firm when it gets tough.

“For me, like any other coach, it is a great privilege and a huge honour to be involved with the Bok coaching structures,” Coetzee said.

Coetzee is certainly not a coaching greenhorn.

“I have come through the ranks, both as player and coach,” he said.

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