After months of speculation Allistair Coetzee has been announced as the new coach to succeed Heyneke Meyer and take the Springboks on into a new era.
Coetzee, who had a playing career of almost 22 years as a scrum-half, was an assistance coach throughout the Jake White era when South Africa went on to win the 2007 World Cup.
Coetzee said he was extremely honoured and humbled to coach the Springboks.
“This job comes with a huge amount of responsibility because our passionate fans rightfully demand the best from the Springboks at all times,” said Coetzee.
“Rugby ignites so much passion in our country. The team inspires all our people and every young rugby player in our country aspires to be a Springbok one day. I know full well that coaching the Springboks requires a lot of dedication, patience and hard work. I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity.”
Coetzee will have a stern test on his hands as South Africa embark to rebuild their squad after the retirement of rugby stalwarts Victor Matfield, Jean De Villiers and Fourie Du Preez following on from what was an unimpressive World Cup where the Springboks suffered an embarrassing loss to Japan after losing their first ever home game to Argentina in the Rugby Championship.
SARU president Oregan Hoskins has labelled Coetzee as the “outstanding candidate” for the role and pointed to his understanding of South Africa’s “transformation imperatives”.
“Allister’s appointment marks the changing of the guard at the top of Springbok rugby and is an exciting new departure for SA Rugby,” said Hoskins.
“It is a watershed moment for our game with new players developing alongside a spine of experience and it was the right time to have a new man guiding the Springboks for the foreseeable future.
The SARU’s appointment of Coetzee will be seen as a positive measure taken to alleviate the racial tensions that surmounted during Heyneke Meyer’s reign, as they are now backing a government demand that at least half the Springboks squad will be black in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
It is felt that in a country where 90% of the population are black, that this demographic must be represented in the Springboks squad more which has traditionally had a squad of a 4:1 ratio of white players to black, meaning that South African rugby is missing out on a potentially huge pool of rugby talent.
During his time with the Stormers, Coetzee was quite successful in this regard, regularly fielding a 50% black Stormers team, including captain and centre Juan de Jongh and it is hoped he will achieve similar success with the national side.
The first test for Coetzee’s South Africa will come in the form of a three-test homes series against Ireland this June.
Quotes via SARU.
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