Let’s Talk About Allister Coetzee’s Backroom Staff – And How He Blew It With Rassie Erasmus
When the Bok losses started to pile up there was one defence often put forward – look at Allister Coetzee’s backroom staff, he wasn’t exactly given the cream of the crop.
I would have to agree, but then you go ahead and read something like this and you’re left scratching your head.
If this bombshell from Zelim Nel over at Vodacom Rugby is to believed, Allister played a huge part in some of the country’s best (and most successful) rugby brains being wasted at a national level.
Now we know that there are forces behind the scenes that will never play out in public, like how much say the likes of Fikile Mbalula and his mates really have, but let’s deal with these new allegations for now.
First a little background:
The single biggest factor in Western Province and the Stormers’ revival under Rassie Erasmus between 2008 and 2011 was the defensive systems implemented by Jacques Nienaber [below].
Coetzee made no apologies as he backed Nienaber’s plan to kick and defend, achieving unprecedented success in 2012. And then, as if the best season-record in Stormers history had never happened, he neglected defence in pursuit of the promise of attacking rugby in 2013 and 2014. WP were embarrassed in the 2013 Currie Cup final by a Sharks side prepped by moonlight coach Brendan Venter, and the Stormers went 16-16 during those two seasons.
Sidelined by Coetzee’s plans, Nienaber threw in the towel at the end of 2014 and followed Erasmus to SA Rugby headquarters.
So Allister ruined the Stormers – but why stop there when the Springbok berth beckons:
Fast forward to the lead up to the announcement of Heyneke Meyer’s successor. Coetzee was presented with the option to reunite with Nienaber in a Bok management team that featured Erasmus as technical director, Johan van Graan as forwards coach, kicking coach Louis Koen, scrum coach Pieter de Villiers and Mzwandile Stick in a development role as an off-the-ball coach – tasked with training players to work hard off the ball to get into good attacking positions.
Coetzee binned this offer, sacking Nienaber, De Villiers and Koen and retreading Van Graan as an attack coach. He went into his first season as an international head coach without a kicking coach. Coetzee also turned down the opportunity to draft in Omar Mouneimne – the defence coach that constructed the Sharks’ hard-hitting wall – promoting Chean Roux into that role with zero experience, while Stick (with four months’ senior coaching experience) was designated backline coach.
Matt Proudfoot, under whom previously accurate Stormers hookers became perennial spray guns at the lineout, was appointed forwards coach.
Coetzee was ostensibly hoping that Duane Vermeulen, who had been the Stormers’ de facto defence coach in 2015, would take up the same role at the Boks. But, after one look at the Boks’ young and ill-disciplined setup, the adamantine loose forward decided he didn’t want to be part of the circus.
Yeah, big Duane don’t want no part in this circus (HERE).
Just go ahead and read through that bit about the coaching staff again – he was handed Rassie and Nienaber on a plate, a tried and tested combination, but instead went for his ever-popular ‘play a guy out of position’ with the coaching team as well.
Again, we don’t know how much say he really had in all of that, given that there is obviously political meddling behind the scenes, but at the end of the day in the public’s eyes the buck stops with him.
As for our backline under Allister – THIS just about sums that shambles up.
Do the honourable thing, Toetie, and jump before you’re pushed.
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